Special Report: Premiums and Incentives: Mint cashing in on private-sector incentive market

The Royal Canadian Mint believes it produces the best incentives money can buy, and now it wants marketers to believe that, too.The Mint has, for decades, produced customized products such as medals for the Department of National Defence, and medallions to...

The Royal Canadian Mint believes it produces the best incentives money can buy, and now it wants marketers to believe that, too.

The Mint has, for decades, produced customized products such as medals for the Department of National Defence, and medallions to reward long service by federal civil servants.

But, to date, its forays into the private sector incentive market have been sporadic.

As part of the Crown corporation’s recent efforts to become more market-driven, however, that is about to change.

‘[The incentive market] is a big market, and we would like to be a bigger player in it,’ says Donald Burke, the Mint’s director of sales.

‘And that means trying to put together packages that will be of interest to corporate buyers,’ Burke says.

Those packages may include non-circulating collector coins – officially known as numismatic products, which the Mint already produces singly and in sets – and customized medals or medallions.

(According to a Mint spokesman, medals have no face value and are intended to be worn, while medallions are usually larger than medals and are not worn. Both medals and medallions are distinct from coins, which are legal tender.)

Burke says he believes there is a significant, albeit untapped, market for the Mint’s products.

Unlike low-cost ‘trinkets and trash,’ the Mint’s numismatic products – such as its 24-karat gold 99.99% pure Maple Leaf coin – have high perceived value and will last indefinitely.

Burke says such a coin might be used to honor a sales rep who has reached a $1 million sales quota.

Alternately, a custom-made medallion engraved with a company’s corporate logo might be used to honor length of service, to recognize achievement, or to motivate customers to buy a high-priced product.

While the Mint is still working out the fine details of its incentive marketing plan, it has made several organizational changes to facilitate its efforts.

Each sales representative is now responsible for the Mint’s full line of products and one of the Mint’s sales managers will soon be working out of Toronto, where he can be closer to the Mint’s corporate clients.

As for the cost of a custom-made medallion, Burke says he honestly cannot provide even a rough estimate, since its manufacture depends on so many variables – size, thickness, metal used (gold, silver, platinum, copper or an alloy), complexity of the design, and whether the client provides camera-ready art or a rough sketch.

Even so, Burke does not expect to be competing for business with the sellers of mugs and baseball caps.

‘We are nationally- and internationally-renowned for the quality of our engraving,’ he says. ‘And some clients are going to be looking for that.’

Incentive sales now account for less than 1% of the Mint’s annual revenues.