Reward With Experience, Not Just Tangibility

There's really no point in beating around the bush at what a large component of our business is: merchandise fulfillment. We help develop incentive programs and fulfill them using points systems and merchandise rewards. In many cases, merchandise rewards have proven to be an effective motivating tool for many programs. There's an old saying backing up the use of noncash rewards stating "People don't work for money, they work for things that money can buy." A good point...but is it really the merchandise itself that motivate people?
It's not really the product itself that motivates people to work harder. Sure merchandise does have a trophy value associated with it but when they receive the item, after the initial "Wow I earned something" goes away, the participant still needs some reason to still want that item. This is where the experience factor behind their new earned piece of merchandise comes into play. 
Let's use a flat screen television as an example. There is definitely an inherent trophy value with a person who is awarded that from their company's incentive program. After all, the employee will be able to hang that television on their wall like a work of art and see it every day, reminding them of their achievement. Unfortunately those thrills wear off over time. So what purpose does it serve now? 
The experiences associated with that TV are what really drives why someone would go forth the extra mile for one. They don't care about hanging an electronic box on their wall. However they do care about what they will use the TV for. These things could range from more time spent with the family watching their favorite shows or movies in high definition. It could also be the centerpiece for a party (i.e a Super Bowl party) which reflects a positive experience for that employees and their friends having a good time watching the game..
People just don't want stuff but want to be able to experience more things with that stuff. In our latest video post, we see Steve Smith order a new digital camera. He doesn't just want a camera for the sake of having a camera. He gets the camera in order to record memories on his upcoming family vacation.
So what do you think? Do people just want stuff?