Demoday #24: True pricing in practice at Marineterrein

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Our current economic system is ecologically, socially, and even economically unsustainable. New economic theories give us an idea of how our economy can be part of our society. They offer tools to make that economy more equitable and sustainable. Yet, new economic thinking is still often dismissed as unrealistic and unachievable. Only by trying out new economic theories in practice, we can demonstrate that these are real alternatives.

That’s why, together with a collective of organisations, Amsterdam Economic Board has launched a living lab project ‘New Economic Thinking, New Economic Acting’ at the Marineterrein in Amsterdam. With various socio-economic experiments, they explore what it would mean if we’d shift the focus from quantitative to qualitative growth. One of the experiments is about True Pricing, which involves applying real prices of products, including the hidden costs for the environment, animals and people. In this Demoday session, Laetitia Stuijt and Erik Lückers from Amsterdam Economic Board asked the Amsterdam Smart City network for input on how to implement this theory in practice at the Marineterrein.

Introduction to True Pricing: True Price Lab

We started with an introduction about True Pricing by Sjoukje Goldman, researcher and lecturer at the Centre for Economic Transformation at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. She told us all about the True Price Lab project she’s been working on lately. The project aims to provide a deeper understanding of the true costs of products. On one hand, it seeks to offer a more comprehensive view of the total costs, including often overlooked factors such as environmental pollution, health damage, and social impact. And on the other hand, it aims to gather knowledge on how to motivate consumers to actually pay the true price. How can you effectively communicate to the customer about true pricing so that the customer understands, trusts, and is willing to pay the true price? And does true pricing indeed lead to increased sales of organic and sustainably produced food?

True pricing in practice

After the introduction by Sjoukje, the participants brainstormed about how True Pricing could be put in practice in their own organisation and on the Marineterrein. Mare Roelfsema and Amber Dubbeldam from Hieroo led this session, and helped to categorise all ideas based on their originality and ease of implementation using a How-Now-Wow-Matrix.

  • Now!

In the “Now” category, we grouped ideas that are familiar and easy to implement and actualise. One of the ideas that we discussed was to start small: for example at your own office by buying true price coffee. Also, restaurants at the Marineterrein can start small by offering one true price product on the menu. By doing this, restaurants such as Homeland or Kanteen25 can initiate the conversation about true price with their customers, which will help raise awareness. Another “Now!” idea was to work together with the True Price organisation, because their expertise on this topic would be very valuable for the Marineterrein.

  • Wow!

In the “Wow!” category, we grouped ideas that are innovative and easy to implement and actualise. One of the “Wow!” Ideas was for all hospitality providers on the Marineterrein to jointly have the true price calculated for one or more products. Calculating the true price for products can be very costly. By doing this together, the costs will be more manageable for the hospitality providers. Another “Wow!” idea that was mentioned often is to create more awareness by communication campaigns in our public place. This is important, because not many consumers know about the hidden external costs of the products they buy. By creating awareness, we can increase people’s willingness to pay the true price of products in the future.

  • How?

In the “How” category, we grouped ideas that are innovative but difficult to implement, they might be worth considering as future goals. The main “How?” idea we discussed was to directly link true pricing as a means to achieving CSRD goals that companies must meet. True pricing offers an opportunity to gain insight into supply chains and the hidden environmental and social costs, thereby helping to report on sustainability. Currently, only large companies have to comply with CSRD legislation, but later on, small and medium-sized will have to report on CSRD as well.

Conclusion: Start small to make an impact!

During this session, the participants became more familiar with the concept of true price and thought about how to put this into practice on the Marineterrein. “We have gained valuable new practical insights at this Demoday. What has stuck with me the most is that we need to start small, and that true price can be linked to CSRD to show its value to companies”, said Laetitia Stuijt from Amsterdam Economic Board.

Would you like to know more about the Living Lab Project ‘New Economic Thinking, New Economic Acting’? Or do you have any input? Leave a comment and I’ll connect you with Laetitia and Erik.