Coffee stories II

What is interesting about the coffee stories I shared is that entire cultures can be reshaped by business models and the slew of marketing that is fueled from the leverage investors allows. I’ve always shared the example of how Grab overturned the culture of hailing cabs off the streets in Singapore. Singaporeans don’t even hop on the cabs at the taxi stands anymore.

This has implications for government incentivisation and the manner by which incentives are doled out and the behaviours they are trying to change. Singapore government had been quite skillful in this area, having a smaller market to government and being able to impose ‘tighter’ controls. There are often careful checks and balances to prevent individuals and corporations from gaming the system to extract benefits from the system without abiding by the desired behaviours. And there’s also a big theme of maintaining consistency. This was why for the longest time, the government only allowed married couples to purchase public housing directly from the authorities; and even today, singles are only allowed to own these flats if they are aged 35 and above. The government wants to promote family formation and hence maintaining some consistency in the policy of public housing subsidisation.

Those elements recur in the position of offering tax breaks, providing further direct grants to new parents, priorities in public housing and so on. Businesses can learn from the same by ensuring that they steward the limited resources they have to reward those customers behaving in the desired manner (eg. referring other customers, posting about using their products) while making it harder for the ones whom the business do not desire as customers to consume the products.