Cinema Rewards and the Deeper Value of Non-Cash Incentives

is cash always king?

There is much discussion to be had about incentives and their impact on behaviour. Whether the aim is to influence purchase decisions, boost performance or encourage higher attendence, with mechanics like cinema rewards, the case for motivation rewards is alive and well.

A common myth is that cash rewards reign supreme when it comes to rewarding employees, but that's not always the case. Nearly one in five employees would like to share an experience with their team as a reward, showing employees don't always want monetary treats. Let’s take a look at the value of non-cash rewards


Incentive programs may continue to thrive across industries, but their efficacy and conceivable returns certainly vary. With diverse perceptions of what qualifies as a practical, worthwhile incentive, for all parties involved, it’s important for program organisers to do their homework.

While cash incentives may seem the obvious route to take when looking to inspire action from a targeted group of people (whether that be employees, pupils, consumers or any other demographic), research tends to contradict this assumption, suggesting that monetary-based motivation isn’t always constructive motivation.

Each program will have its own distinctive aims and budgets, yet the value of the non-cash reward remains consistent no matter the audience. Those who look a little bit closer will find that non-cash incentives – which include cinema and travel – rule the roost when it comes to influencing behavioural tendencies.  


One of the leading authorities in this space, the Incentive Marketing Association, note four key reasons why non-cash incentives are superior:

Evaluability: Thoughtful non-cash incentives have the ability to ignite the imagination in a way that enhances their perceived value. Experiences create lasting memories that build bridges, relationships and morale in ways that impersonal cash rewards cannot.

Separability: Non-cash incentives allow people to distinguish recognition from compensation, whereas the perception of cash rewards can become muddied. Cash rewards are also subject to tax and can get lost in amongst the rest of the money in someone’s account.

Justifiability: Those who earn non-cash incentives get a special satisfaction from receiving them, as they offer a guilt-free alternative to spending.

Social Reinforcement: These types of rewards facilitate communication and alignment because people feel free and at ease to talk about them, whereas conversations about cash can come across as impolite, or even crass in some situations.

This deeper value rings true across all manner of non-cash rewards – and the big screen is no different. In fact, over 84% of participants in a recent Sodexo survey said they prefer to receive vouchers (including cinema rewards) instead of traditional, impersonal employee incentives. The general consensus is overwhelming!


The demand is there and this has been reflected in a remarkable 17% growth in the non-cash incentives market since the Incentive Association/Incentive Federation’s last study three years previous. Growth that signals a shift in the way we perceive motivational rewards.

Non-cash incentives in action

A 2014 report, assembled by Aberdeen Group and Incentive Research Foundation, consolidates this notion. The survey found that 63% of higher performing organisations show a clear preference for non-cash rewards.

They have a stronger, more positive impact on the bottom line of businesses and represent a more personable appeal to an audience’s willingness to participate in activities, promotions, monetary based subscription services etc.

Rewarding employees

One environment where incentives are a necessity, is the workplace. For business owners there’s the opportunity to effectively motivate employee through maximising their recognition and rewards for employees.

Unsurprisingly, a massive 67% of companies use non-cash awards for employees and 62% of employees say they prefer a tangible reward when asked about their incentive preferences (Incentive Marketing Association).

The benefits are palpable as by 2020, millennials will form 75% of the global workforce according to PwC. What’s more, this growing economic force is heading a progressive shift in work/lifestyle ideals.

The trend is set. Three out of four millennial employees prioritise experience over tangible goods, while 17% of millennials have also said they would like to have the opportunity to share their rewards with their teams at workWorkforce motivation and morale are indicators of a successful business environment – and experiential cinema rewards and incentives can nurture this professional outlook.


Industries and organisations continue to lean on motivational rewards to inspire current and prospective audiences. This is especially true in times when staff need some extra motivation, reward and incentivisation - such as over the festive season.

Non-cash incentives give people access to experiences that may otherwise sit outside of their budget restrictions. And cinema rewards incentives epitomise this.

The Incentive Federation attributes memorability to the efficacy of these types of incentives and expresses a depth in the way rewards can influence our behaviour.

From enhanced levels of communication between employee and employer, to company wide enthusiasm for incentive programs, and a so-called addiction to earning rewards, the benefits are far reaching to say the least.

The crux of it comes down to an increasing awareness of the modern expectations coming from the younger generations, emerging talented professionals and all manner of consumers. To encourage engagement and motivate performance, businesses, organisations and institutions need to build relationships with their audiences.

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