Comparing Two Direct Mail Strategies to Sell Native Plants in a Campaign to Promote Natural Lake Shorelines

Increased residential development around lakeshores is associated with reduced wildlife habitat, lower biodiversity, and degraded water quality. One way to improve degraded lakeshores is riparian buffers. To accomplish this goal, one approach used by stakeholder groups focused on protecting lakes is to subsidize the costs of restoring native plants that lakeshore property owners can reestablish in more highly developed areas of their lakeshore property. Little research has explored how to increase participation in these programs. Two different coupons were mailed out randomly to subscribers of a county lakes and rivers association located in northwest Wisconsin. The message strategy tested builds on the “zero-price effect,” which posits that when faced with a choice between two product options, one of which is free, people respond more readily to the free offer as if the zero price not only implies a low cost of buying a product but also increases its perceived valuation simply in its being characterized as free. Households received a coupon that read “Free pack or $5 off” with the “free pack” as the visually dominant element or a coupon that read “$5 off or free pack” with the “$5 off” designed as the visually dominant element. Otherwise, the coupons were identical. Half of the households randomly received the first coupon and the other half received the second. Coupons could be redeemed at one of five participating nurseries. As hypothesized, results indicated the “free pack” coupon offer was more attractive to recipients with almost twice as many redemptions.

Social Marketing Quarterly
Shaw,Bret Randall; Radler, Barry; Haack, John
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