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If you want to motivate people, try buying them a coffee

If you want to motivate people, try buying them a coffee

Finding the right incentives doesn’t mean you have to pay big bucks for rewards: the University of Sheffield recently took 741 car journeys off the road simply by offering free cups of coffee.

University leaders wanted to ease the pressure on parking by encouraging regular car drivers to try using active and sustainable modes of transport instead.

We built the Step Up Sheffield programme for them in the BetterPoints app and encouraged staff and students to join it.

We then segmented those that recorded car journeys on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when parking demand is at its peak.

On the following Monday, we offered them a free coffee voucher if they left their car at home the next day. We did this thirteen times between October and December 2023.

We asked everyone who earned it if the offer of coffee was their motivation to leave the car at home…

Ninety per cent said ‘yes’.

The University of Sheffield confirmed that our data correlated with the number of car parking charges they processed in that period. 

In total, the offer of free coffee averted 741 unnecessary car journeys. 

It’s true: a little can go a long way!