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Digital Behaviour

The gentle art of kicking the rear side of the light fingered gentry

… shoplifting has become one of the most prevalent crimes in the U.S., averaging about 550,000 incidents per day resulting in more than $13 billion worth of goods being stolen from retailers each year… click here for more.

It was therefore no surprise for me when I read that innocentive.com, the crowd-sourcing platform for innovative ideas had a Seeker for a problem relating to rendering stolen perfume useless. They called it Benefit Denial.

The seeker was well known manufacturer of perfumes. Perfumes come in small packages, easy to conceal, valuable enough to steal and many use it, making it the one of the top in the retail pilferage list.

What struck me was the interesting management term – ‘benefit denial’. I first thought it was some form of psychological disorder. I realized however it was simply a method to make something useless that was stolen.

Making mobile phones useless once stolen is one such act of benefit denial. Not entirely successful, but it has its advantages. Employers are under pressure all the time to deny benefit to employees stealing their time. Punch cards, marking attendances, camera near the water fountain, closing the canteen when not required are all time tested strategies to deny benefit to the time stealers.

The classic zebra outfit for those in the jail – a strategy for denying benefit of freedom!zeb

The problem is people steal anything. Anything… Reminds me of the statement made on adulteration. Chilli powder is adulterated with red brick powder. Red brick powder too is adulterated with something else…

Take the case of non-reusable-through-away ball pen. The cost of these has really reduced. Many hotels keep it on desks and other public access zones. Even these are stolen.

In this ages where marketers toy with ideas on free, freemium and premium – benefit denial seems the avenue to make money. Can red light jumpers find their car freezing on detecting they have jumped a light? Can anyone who takes two instead of one at a ‘Take one’ campaign be punished?

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