Two grocery stores use two different incentives to get people to bring in their own reusable, shopping bags. Trader Joe’s lets you fill out a raffle ticket for a monthly drawing. If you win, you get a $25 gift certificate. At New Seasons, everyone who brings their own bag is a winner. The prize? Five cents off your bill for every reusable bag you come in with.
I don’t know which incentive encourages more people to bring their own bags. Here in Portland, by my observation, it appears about equal. But the two different incentives create very different attitudes about these brands.
I never won at Trader Joe’s. I don’t know anyone who has. Every time I fill out their raffle ticket, I feel like Trader Joe’s is treating me like a lottery player (meaning, suckers who pay the stupidity tax). And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Will five cents off at New Season’s make or break me? Of course not and it’s easy to spend a lot of money there. But I feel like the five cents off per bag is an honest deal and that the people who make the decisions at New Seasons respect me.
The truth is that neither incentive works to get me to remember to bring my own shopping bag, and I believe that holds true for many. I do it to use less resources, reduce clutter in my house, and my insulated shopping bag keeps food better on the way home than paper bags.
That doesn’t mean these incentives are unimportant. Far from it. They are the last transaction a person has before leaving the store, and therefore have more power to make an impression about a brand than their so-called purpose of getting people to save resources. Which do you prefer? To drop yet another a lottery/raffle ticket into the box as you walk out the door at Trader Joe’s? Or be handed a receipt that shows five cents off your bill for each shopping bag your brought with you at New Seasons?
I know which store/brand I like better and would rather shop at. Do you?
UPDATE (March 2nd): TRADER JOE’S CHANGING ITS RAFFLE CONTEST
I just saw a sign at my local Trader Joe’s announcing the last drawing for the monthly $25 gift certificate will be on March 28th. A new, daily winner game will begin on April 4th. Their new incentive plan will dramatically increase the odds of winning or knowing someone who won. Good move.