Does anyone remember a South Africa that was so awash in supermarket shopping bags that the thin plastic bag was once dubbed ‘SA’s national flower’? Then, about 20 years ago, consumers in South Africa started paying for these bags and suddenly their willy-nilly usage plummeted. Today, many of us see value in these bags (that we’ve forked out 50-odd cents for) and would never dream of simply discarding them all over the place. This shows how powerful hitting us in the pocket can be when you want to direct behaviour towards a more environmentally-conscious end. It also shows how on-the-ball our country is in many areas. The National Credit Act is another beautiful piece of legislation that was introduced just at the right time, that is, shortly before the global credit crisis really hit. Much of the world is now seeing how damaging the cousin of the plastic bag is turning out to be. I’m speaking, of course, of the plastic straw and its partner in the environmental crime of the last century and of the current young century: the styrofoam cup. Mostly used for coffee, the styrofoam and other plastic derivatives of this takeaway favourite is now being recognised for the rotter it is turning out to be. Forget caffeine keeping us awake, the caffeine holder is now giving us all sleepless nights wondering what damage is being done to our world. We often mention real-world examples of mobile marketing in this blog and today I have such a cracker for you that’s related to the above. Not content with offering customers discounts for bringing their own cups, Costa Coffee in the UK has now teamed up with Barclaycard to launch a coffee cup that’s not only reusable, but which incorporates a mobile payment element. What? Yes, seriously! Your coffee cup now pays for itself, well, sort of… The ‘clever cup’, which comes with a mobile app to run the whole thing, is part of a wider campaign by Costa to encourage customers to avoid single-use coffee cups. Essentially, the cup has a contactless chip embedded in its silicon base which screws off off so you can wash it – presumably without washing your money away! Mobile users can track their spending, top up their balance and block or cancel the contactless payment element using the dedicated app or online. This has to be 2018’s best example of the deployment of practical yet awesome mobile technology out in the wild. What a way to (almost) end what’s been another great mobile year! Let’s end off by issuing a challenge to the African mobile marketing community to come up with something equally outstanding.
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