This coffee shop has gone to an extreme edge to change people’s behavior

Trying to change people’s behavior is the hallmark quality of marketing. When a firm embarks on that approach, it puts their company’s future under jeopardy.

However, when a coffee shop owner has that intention, there is a huge probability that it may hurt their profit significantly.

This is what the owners of Otto Coffee House in Kent have done to their customers:

Over the course of one month, the coffee shop collected more than 15,000 abandoned disposable cups around the town and scattered them on the floor in their coffee shop.

To buy a coffee in a disposable cup, customers have to endure a 'walk of shame' and wade through the sea of abandoned cups to reach the counter.

But what about people with reusable cups?

If customers had taken reusable cups with them, they could collect their order at the counter, thereby avoiding the 'walk of shame.'

Many customers who made the 'walk of shame' are genuinely concerned about the impact they have on the environment. The statement they used to console themselves, 'It's just one cup,' is no longer helping; in fact, it's hurting everyone on this planet.

This coffee shop made an ambitious attempt to prove that when 8 billion people on this planet say, 'It's just one cup,' they should think about the impact it can have on the earth.

What happened after this 'walk of shame' campaign:

They moved from Sevenoaks high streets to Cornwall and started serving customers from another extreme edge. If customers don't have a cup with them, they can get a coffee in a jar with a dollar deposit. Once they finish drinking, they can get the dollar back.

They also have a mug wall where customers can pick one cup from the aisles of their choice and return it once they have finished drinking.

But if they are in a hurry and want a To-Go cup, there is a 25-cent upcharge to offset carbon footprint.

Why did they make a dollar deposit and a 25-cent upcharge mandatory?

Drawing inspiration from the book 'Nudge,' they learned that people are more conscious of losing something than gaining something. This understanding stemmed from the observation that the Starbucks discount of 25 cents for bringing one's own cup didn't effectively change behavior.

Therefore, they decided to instill a sense of loss in their customers to influence their actions.

"Bring your own cup to get a 25 cents discount" to "This cup costs you 25 cents if you are in a hurry, or if you have time, drink coffee in a jar with a dollar deposit."

When they tracked customer behavior before and after implementing the upcharge, the usage of to-go cups decreased from 66% to 30%. This change effectively prevented half of the cups from going to the landfill.

Despite being nerve-wracking for the owners in the beginning, customers supported the company’s vision and understood their own responsibility.

In fact, they not only accepted the change but also spread the word about the company to others. 

“This serves as a compelling example of pushing the boundaries to change consumer behavior, a hallmark quality of effective marketing.”