In driving engagement and behavior change, the power is often in the subtleties. So here’s a little thought that just might be a big thought: As we work toward mainstreaming sustainability, we should stop talking in terms of should, and instead we ought to start speaking in terms of ought.Here’s what I mean. “Should” makes a demand on us that comes from outside us, and often from above us. Authority figures tell us we “should” clean our room, do our homework, be home by eleven, eat less, move more, live with less, choose wisely and recycle. We feel it pressing upon us as one more thing to add to our list of things to do, or to refrain from doing, to win favor and avoid guilt.
As businesses and brands reach out to influence consumers’ interactions with products at home, they’re missing a trick by not learning from different cultural contexts. This article shares the findings from pioneering user-centred research into laundry behaviours in Brazil, India and the UK, and offers seven guidelines for creating household products that encourage sustainable behaviours during the use phase.Household laundry behaviours in India, Brazil and the UKThe in-depth, user-centred research focused on 19 middle-income households in Loughborough, UK; Bangalore, India; and Curitiba, Brazil. In-context interviews, observation, household tours and laundry diaries were used as a tool to understand the laundry process.
Michael Murray is the president and co-founder of Lucid, a software company providing real-time information feedback designed to “teach, inspire behavior change, and save energy and water resources in buildings.” Since the company’s founding in 2004, over 275 schools and organizations have adopted Lucid’s Building Dashboard, which it describes as a social network for buildings that allows people to view, compare, and share resource usage data online.
As my Green Marketing students are learning, companies large and small are reducing their carbon footprints by adopting strategies to make their operations, goods and services more environmentally sustainable. But with the world population headed towards eight billion, marketers also recognize the important role that consumers play through their usage and disposal of products. To nudge consumers towards less wasteful behavior, take some advice from social marketers — make it easy, fun and popular.Easy Does It
Marks and Spencer (M&S) recently piloted training toolkits for its supplier factories in the UK and Sri Lanka, as part of its Plan A commitment to being a Fair Partner. These toolkits were a result of a collaborative design process between M&S and its factories, led by A Very Good Company (AVGC). The process of co-creation has helped to engage suppliers with M&S’s sustainability agenda, leading to the creation of a product that connects with the needs of M&S, its factory managers and their employees. This collaborative approach to creating behaviour change within a factory environment has transferable learning for brands as they seek to engage consumers with new, more sustainable propositions.
I was asked recently about my favourite behaviour change stories in the energy space. I didn’t have to think long: my favourite is the one about the £200-a-year towel rail. Yep, you heard that right: a towel rail.
Bob Dylan understood the sustainability challenge long ago when he sang, “People seldom do what they believe in / They do what is convenient, then repent” in “Brownsville Girl.”For sustainability to become mainstream, we need to reframe the debate — in terms of both language and relevant benefits. I believe mass-market and well-loved brands are best placed to drive and accomplish this critical shift.So do we just need to leverage brands to make people care about the environment?
Consumer behaviour change is the challenge of our time. An effective response will require increased capacity and capability across the sector: more skills, different skills and more people with those skills. If we are to achieve this, we need cross-sector collaboration with strong, independent leadership.
In the past two months, the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, the second-floor failure of the shoe factory in Cambodia, and most recently, the fire in the Chinese poultry plant have resulted in the deaths of some 1,500 workers in the developing world.In China alone, more than 100,000 people die annually in factories. These numbers are raising difficult questions among European and American consumers who have become accustomed to goods being manufactured abroad.
When it comes to motivating behavior change, there’s nothing more powerful than the recommendations of your peers. This applies to everything from musical tastes of teenagers to brand selections among consumers to farmers in India.This power of peer influence is brought home by a study, funded by Microsoft, to determine the most effective ways for transmitting life-saving information about innovative agricultural techniques to farmers in developing communities.
One of the most frequently discussed topics in the sustainability industry is sustainable consumption. How can we shift people away from frequently buying new “things” and toward re-use and alternatives to ownership such as borrowing or swapping?
Ninety percent of international trade travels by ship. And that comes with the type of carbon impact you would expect: The shipping industry’s carbon emissions currently account for 3-4% of global emissions and are expected to triple by 2050 if current practices continue unchanged.Shipping is a vital, global industry. Part or all of the clothes you’re wearing, the phone you use and the materials in the buildings you live and work in were most likely transported by ship for at least part of their journey to you. But with a carbon impact like its current one, the sustainability of the whole shipping industry could be in jeopardy. And that affects us all.
Our Issue in Focus on Driving Behaviour Change kicked off in style this month with articles exploring why, how and what brands can do to create behaviour change for a better world. Here is the first of two round-ups of the content from Forum for the Future. We’ll draw out the tips and questions your brand can take away and act on to help you unleash some magic to create meaningful change.
“Less talk and more action” has been a guiding motto of my life, so I suppose it should have come as no surprise when, after a year of researching the ins and outs of environmental behaviour change for my Masters, I decided to put the theory into practice.I figured I’d do best to test the lessons I’d learned out on my friends first; after all, if they wouldn’t listen who would? My friends don’t like being preached at — especially when it comes to being green. Like most people, at the mention of any simple eco actions, such as changing light bulbs or driving less, most of them would simply switch off.I needed a fun way to grab their attention and fuel their motivation to start doing things differently. So I grabbed a friend and we cycled to Morocco.
In his book The Green Marketing Manifesto, environmental advertising guru John Grant admits that there is one product that he had no idea how to sell. The problem is not product performance. The little disruptive innovation in question is not just greener but more convenient, cost effective and reliable than its more established competitors. The problem is that it goes against prevailing attitudes and, as a durable low-margin product it doesn’t generate a large marketing budget with which to change those attitudes.
Promoting behavior change is something that Lifebuoy knows well. Launched in 1894 by William Level in the UK as the Royal Disinfectant Soap to stop cholera in Victorian England, it went on to be known as the “red soap” throughout the twentieth century. Back in the early days, Lifebuoy launched programs in schools showing children the importance of handwashing at key occasions.
The consumption of goods and services is growing rapidly with the rise in household incomes and population growth. This growth in consumption is significantly offsetting and underplaying the environmental gains being made on the production side.At Nokia, we believe changing of consumption patterns requires businesses to play an entirely new and additional role and look beyond the scope of work set by Life-Cycle Thinking.Consumption patterns are a derivative of the choices people make, their actions, reasons, influences and the things that inspire and drive them. These actions, choices are all in turn influenced by the context.
Over the last few years, Shelton Group’s Pulse studies have tracked a decline in concern for several environmental issues — hypothesizing that some issues (such as climate change) have become highly politicized and that the country’s declining economy has given Americans more immediate worries to focus on. One environmental issue that has definitely bucked this trend is trash.In our Green Living Pulse™ study, throwing trash out of the car window was the only environmentally related behavior that a majority of Americans (63 percent) would be very embarrassed to get caught doing.
In my speeches on "making green sexy," which I've given in a number of locations in the US and Europe, I talk about different types of message points for three different audiences: deep green, light green/lazy green, and non-green. I discuss the idea that these three groups are motivated differently, and to make real society-wide behavioral change, we need to hit all three. Some of Shelton Group's research has actually influenced my thinking about this.