We combine behavioral economics, gamification, and social media marketing to develop campaigns that result in high user engagement, reduced environmental impact, and increased financial performance for client organizations.
Consumers face insufficient incentivizes to behave in environmentally friendly ways. For example, coffee shops typically offer ten-cent discounts for customers who bring reusable cups, and grocery stores offer two-cent discounts for use of reusable bags. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers continue to waste resources; existing incentives aren’t enough.
Social Ventures solves this problem by providing consumers with incentives that help them change their wasteful behavior. Social Ventures campaigns benefit businesses through reduced waste-related costs and increased customer loyalty. Consumers benefit by reducing unnecessary expenditures, joining pro-sustainability communities, and identifying themselves as environmentally responsible. This strategy allows Social Ventures to create solutions that benefit businesses, consumers, and the environment simultaneously.
Our pilot project, “Kill the Cup” (killthecup.com), was held at UC San Diego during April and May of 2013. We encouraged people to bring their own cup when they bought coffee on campus. We told people to upload photos of their re-filled coffee mugs to our website as entries into daily, weekly, and grand prize raffles. According to UC San Diego’s sales data, the percentage of coffees served to people with their own cups grew by 68% — from a baseline of 11.6% to 19.6%. Coffee shops also saw coffee revenues increase 10%.
We believe the framework we used to encourage use of reusable mugs applies to a whole host of sustainable behaviors. Our main focus is reduction of environmental impact. We also focus on education — giving undergraduate students the learning experience of managing social norms-focused campus campaigns. We’re also working with university researchers to further the understanding of behavioral economics and psychology. Finally, given the profits experienced by the stores, we recognize a potential positive bottom-line impact for businesses.
Drew Beal is the co-founder and executive director of Social Ventures for Sustainability. A 2013 MBA graduate of the University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management, Drew’s background is in financial services, and his studies focused on entrepreneurship, consumer behavior, and sustainability.
Mike Taylor is the co-founder and strategic director of Social Ventures for Sustainability. A 2013 MBA graduate of the University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management, Mike’s background is in journalism and corporate communications, and his studies focused on strategy, market research, and nonprofit consulting.
For more information, please contact us.