In an attempt to stimulate a sagging economy and get consumers to replace older appliances with eco-friendly models, Japan is betting on an old but still-relevant sales and loyalty tool: reward points. In mid-May, the government launched an “Eco-Points” system in which consumers who buy energy-efficient flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, air-conditioners, etc., can collect Eco-Points based on the product category, size of product and a star rating system.
Although the government is still discussing precisely how consumers can eventually redeem Eco-Points, this ambiguity hasn’t seemed to matter—perhaps an indication that the most important aspect of reward points programs is how they make consumers feel about a purchase. In the first week after the program launched, weekly sales of designated items increased significantly: TVs by 48 percent, refrigerators by 19 percent and air conditioners by 45 percent compared with the previous year, according to data from GfK Japan. And in a joint survey from Nikkei Business Daily and Yahoo! Value Insight in late May, 47 percent of respondents said they were considering buying a flat-screen TV because of the Eco-Points incentive.