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One needs to be reminded and motivated: mediating role of digital nudging for food waste reduction

Derek Ong (Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)
Shirley Chiu (My Green Shield Malaysia, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia and Department of Marketing, Sunway University Business School, Sunway University, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)
Elizabeth Andrews (Department of Marketing, Sunway University Business School, Sunway University, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)
Geetha Nadarajan (Department of Marketing, Sunway University Business School, Sunway University, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 22 May 2023

Issue publication date: 29 May 2023

798

Abstract

Purpose

The global food waste and food scarcity paradox is steadfastly increasing. This study aims to examine the effects of digital nudging as forms of positive and negative reinforcement to change food waste behavior and found that nudging positive reinforcement modifies this habit.

Design/methodology/approach

A field experiment was conducted on 628 diners randomly split into experiment (n = 412) and control group (n = 216) in two separate dining locations over four weeks. Out of these, 412 diners were randomly subjected to tent cards with positive (n = 228) and negative (n = 184) reinforcement nudging and completed a questionnaire to ascertain if nudging affects their consumption behavior. Consumption waste per unit revenue was calculated from all 628 diners individually to analyze the financial impact between control and experiment groups.

Findings

SEM analysis reveals that positive reinforcement mediates between external motivators (social media and restaurant service) and reduction of food waste behavior. Further analysis also reveals that nudging has a higher three times effect on reducing food waste as compared with no nudging (control).

Social implications

Positive messaging encourages behavior change more effectively as compared to negative ones. Gentle reminders of how everyone can personally be a “warrior” or “hero” in the fight against global food waste increases the likelihood of altruistic motivation in tackling these issues.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates how positive reinforcement in the form of nudges acts as key mediator to support reduction of consumer food waste on site, ultimately helping to reduce financial costs compared to those without nudges.

Keywords

Citation

Ong, D., Chiu, S., Andrews, E. and Nadarajan, G. (2023), "One needs to be reminded and motivated: mediating role of digital nudging for food waste reduction", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 449-471. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSOCM-02-2023-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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