Monday, April 26, 2010

Does giving a rebate work ?

I am delighted to hear that NEA is finally making a stand to require all supermarkets to do something about the tons of plastic carrier bags they issued out to customers each year.

NEA proposal is to get the supermarkets to rebate a token sum to those who bring along their own shopping bags. However, this approach may not work.

We know psychologically people are more adverse with parting with their money than being rewarded monetary.

Thus, charging them for each bag issues will be more effective than giving them a rebate.

NEA could gauge the effectiveness of their proposal through statistic available from NTUC Fairprice which currently only implement the green exercise to encourage folks to bring their own bag once a week on Wed.

The rebate strategy would not work if the statistic reveals that :-

1) There are less folks shopping at NTUC on Wed compare to other weekdays

2) The number of shoppers who bring along their own bag on Wed is less than those who do not.

If either of the conditions is met, it only shows that people avoid shopping because they have bring their own bag and the rebate does not entice them at all.

Thus, for any new green implementation to make an impact, it has to take into consideration people's psychology regarding monetary 'losses' and 'gains'.

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