Work for a reward

People put more value on a reward that is not available to everyone.


  • Canadian Tire is a retail and automotive service company with over 480 stores across Canada. In 1961 they introduced Canadian Tire Money as a fuel purchase loyalty program, giving customers Canadian Tire “bank notes” as a reward, at a rate of 5% of the fuel purchase price. Over time the reward proportion has fallen to 0.4% of purchase price, but even this relatively meager return hasn’t stopped customers from saving the notes, even for inordinate lengths of time. It took one Edmonton man 15 years to save enough rewards to purchase a ride-on lawnmower. The mower was priced at $1053, which required Canadian Tire money equivalent to spending $263,250, or $17,550 per year, at the store.


Seth Priebatsch, a gamification expert who runs the company SCVNGR, suggests that just handing a coupon to somebody means that they will assign a value to it equal to its redemption value. However, if they have to unlock, win, or otherwise work for that coupon then there is an additional emotional impact that translates into additional perceived value for the individual.

How to create extra reward value

  • To make customers value even a small reward, make them work for it, either by collecting items over time or by performing a task in order to get the reward.
  • Increase the perceived value of the reward by making it harder to achieve, but keep it sufficiently attainable so that the right number of customers will act.
  • Use language such as “winning” or “award” rather than “coupon” to make it clear that effort was involved in attaining the prize.