Materials Matter in Merchandise

Maximizing redemption performance through prize quality

Welcome to today’s Empathy Economy, where it’s imperative that every aspect of your business makes your customer feel positively about your brand. Unfortunately, this is evermore challenging because markets are saturated with similar concepts. We have countless similar family entertainment center concepts in the Kansas City area alone. How can you differentiate yourself?

The Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management (basically a journal written by people who are smarter than us) released an article titled, The effect of retail service quality and product quality on customer loyalty. I’ve lost you… I know. But that’s okay because with their help, we’re going to break down the important role merchandise quality plays in your redemption program.

“Quality has been typically regarded as a key strategic component of competitive advantage, and therefore improving product quality has been a matter of prime concern to firms. Product quality can also be a good place to start providing satisfaction and generating loyalty. The pros include market pioneering, first-mover advantages, low-cost proactive innovation and industry redefinition.” Euphemia F T Yuen and Sian S L Chan.

In the article — we read it so you don’t have to — we learn eight attributes that define product quality:

Performance: Product’s primary operating characteristics.
Features: Additional features or the ‘bells and whistles’ of the product.
Conformance: The extent to which a product’s design and operating characteristics meet established standards.
Reliability: The probability that a product will operate properly over a specified period of time under stated conditions of use.
Durability: The amount of use the customer gets from a product before it physically deteriorates or until replacement is preferable.
Serviceability: The speed, competence and courtesy of repair.
Aesthetics: How a product appeals to our five senses.
Customer-perceived Quality: Customer perception of a product’s quality based on the reputation of the firm.

It might seem like a lot, but don’t worry. We take care of all your merchandise quality needs when we order from our carefully-selected vendors.

Check out what our Chief Product Strategist, Ryan O’Donnell, has to say about our product line and the importance of making sure your business gets the highest quality product:

“It would be easy to offer you cheap plush, at a low cost,” O’Donnell said. “However, that is not what I would want my kids to sleep on, cuddle with, or bring home after a day of fun and games. There is always a low quality low price supplier to buy from no matter what you buy. Will your customer return to play again if they take home a scratchy, floppy plush that lacks the softness and details that set it apart? No. So why would we sell this to you? Enjoy looking at the Neon Apees around the eyelids, nose, mouth and belly. These are the quality details we hope brings your customer a smile, and even more, brings them back to play again. The choice of materials matters, to us, to you, and most importantly they matter to your customer!”

Sweet, so your redemption area is taken care of. But what about the rest of your business? Are you talking to your food and beverage vendors about the quality of products they’re providing? Are you asking your laser tag equipment providers if they’re implementing the latest and greatest technology into their gear? How are you partnering with your game providers on ensuring you have up-to-date games set at the correct pay out and laid out appropriately in your game area?

When it comes to quality, the details matter. Customers are constantly aware of what you miss and it counts to check your (vendor) list, and check it twice.

Add uniqueness to quality for a winning combination

Back to this notion of setting your business apart from the rest. Providing your guests with high-quality, unique prizes will give them an unforgettable experience at your center. For example, show your guests you’re the best choice in your market by incorporating prizes they won’t be able to find anywhere else, like Neon Apees. Seems like a stretch? Let’s break it down:

  • Narratives (stories) are what help us define and build a series of Sensory Experiences. Sensory experiences are important because they are the quickest way for information to access the brain. They are also what build…
  • Memories. Memories are a collection of sensory experiences (smells, tastes, things you see, etc.) that we then transform into something of “meaning,” which we call a “memory.” Exclusive prizes, like Neon Apees, help build exclusive sensory experiences, and therefore memories, separating you from the rest of the competition.
  • Memories create meaning for us because it is the memories we forget and don’t forget that start to shape our understanding of the value of our past & present. Meaning = Value.
  • In an age of abundance, meaning is also what sits at the top of our hierarchy of needs.
  • The memories that hold meaning (value) to us, become unforgettable. And what is unforgettable…is unprecedented value.
  • And therefore… creates loyalty to your business, which positively adds to your bottom line.

Here are five ways high-quality, unique prizes, like Neon Apees, can help you win the Unprecedented Value game:


Imagine the power of a child taking a prize he won at your center to “show-and-tell” at school because he knows none of his friends own anything like it! By providing your guests with unique merchandise, you inherently give them a higher quality experience. They want to come to your center and win prizes that aren’t at the local retail store. The best part is they get to have fun while earning their desired prize!

Higher perceived value

Did you know guests will load their game cards based on the perceived value of your redemption offerings? By providing high-quality, unique prizes you give the impression that your prizes are worth winning — and therefore the dollars spent in the game room.

Incorporate quality without the price

It’s certainly important to have licensed items in your redemption program, as they do serve a purpose. You can also incorporate non-licensed, quality items without breaking the bank.

This allows guests who can’t quite reach their desired licensed item ticket value to still feel accomplished. For example, say a guest realllyyyy wants a Despicable Me™ Minions™ Plush prize but can’t earn enough tickets. The Neon Apees are the perfect alternative to keep them happy!

Attention, attention!

You can utilize special merchandising techniques to deliver a higher perceived value of your redemption program, too. For example, the Neon Apees can be merchandised in several different, eye-catching ways.

  1. Plush hooking directly to slat wall/grid wall: Doing it this way is the cleanest way to display Neon Apees if you’re putting them up high on your display. This also allows the product to always be displayed as you will be redeeming the product from your back stock area as opposed to on your wall, which would leave a very noticeable blank space every time one is redeemed.
  2. Hanging them from the ceiling: If you have the ability to hang product from your ceiling using fishing line and plush hooks this is another great way to have these large eye-catching products always on display.
  3. Displaying on a shelf: These Apees are made to be flexible and can easily be set on a shelf or on top of a crane machine.
  4. Displaying with Smaller Apees: This strategy is called a “Family,” as we also provide an 11in option to go with the 29in option. Displaying together can help turn a Trader into a Saver if they see a larger option of the same item they like.

Entice the mind

Back to what Ryan said earlier. There’s something to be said about a plush item that is soft and cuddly. Giving your guests the chance to touch and feel their potential prizes engages them in a way that sight alone can’t accomplish. In a retail setting, toys often come prepackaged. You have the opportunity to let them try it out first. Use that to your advantage!

This article is by @Tabatha Bender, Connection Crusader at Redemption Plus.

Insights Empower is a collection of thoughts & insights to inspire, educate and connect the Family Entertainment & Bowling Center industry. From the team at Redemption Plus, est. 2017 🎉

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