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Behavior Change
Round-Up #1:
What Can My Brand Take Away From This Issue in Focus?

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.

1. Encourage people to make small changes and use those to inspire others. In her article, Hermione Taylor calls for brands to use action to inspire action, not words. DoNation is a pledge tool that enables people to ‘sponsor’ their friends and colleagues to carry out a challenge by taking actions themselves, rather than by donating money. It allows one person’s endeavour to inspire people around them to ‘donate by doing’ by taking small actions to live more sustainably. Hermione’s advice for brands is simple: Build small, personal actions into much bigger ones by creating a snowball effect.

2. Use social media and networks re-shape norms (and get beyond the ‘yuk factor’). Like DoNation, Mooncup is building individual actions up into a movement for change. Imagine the challenge of marketing an ‘unmentionable’ product? Well, Mooncup is exactly that; it’s a feminine hygiene product. Maya Forstater describes how — powered by social media — Mooncup’s evangelistic user-base is lifting it onto big retailers’ shelves and from the realms of ‘weird’ to ‘normal.’ Mooncup is overcoming the ‘yuck factor’ one woman at a time, through its advocates. Watch this space for an emerging lesson in mainstreaming green.

3. Change the stories we tell ourselves. Lee Ann Head also talks about perception barriers. She says households in the US don’t see the role they can play in managing their energy bills. Lee Ann says energy use is steeply rising as well as the cost per unit. For example, it’s common for a family to buy an ENERGY STAR© fridge then move their old fridge to the garage to store beer, driving their energy consumption up not down. Lee Ann calls for smart meters and time-of-use billing to show us the real story behind our rising bills, and the results of behavioural changes, to motivate us to do more.

This chimes with Sally Uren’s opening article that lasting behaviour change rests on first experiencing the need or desire for change. Sally says stories can help create the need for change by making an emotional connection between a person and an issue.

4. Work in partnership to enable your own initiatives to add up to more. Pranshu Singhal told us Nokia’s ‘ecosystem approach’ is creating the conditions for change in India. Nokia wants to drive sustainable practices in the use phase of handsets and inspire sustainable purchasing decisions. In partnership with a range of organisations, it has co-created initiatives that nurture new mind sets, empower children to influence family living habits by nagging their parents, and enable the recycling economy to deal with e-waste more safely. It’s Small Repair Stores Engagement Program, for example, educates workers at the thousands of stores where old mobile phones finally end up about e-waste, and makes it easy for them to channel their waste to a responsible recycler via Nokia.

5. Change yourself to influence others. Staying with telecoms, Forum’s James Taplin shared how O2 started out wanting to influence consumer behaviour and ended-up doing so by changing itself too. As a leading and highly visible brand, O2 worked with the manufacturers in its supply chain to raise the environmental and social performance of handsets in its stores, as no industry body could. The driver behind it all is a simple, eco-rating score that gives consumers a sustainability rating for each handset, allowing them to choose the best all-round performing handsets. O2 has provided a ‘better choice of choice’ for consumers and is improving the sustainability of the whole sector.

6. Use Futerra’s 13 tactics to set free your brilliance at changing behaviour.

Solitaire Townsend shared Futerra’s new Changemaker Pack, which gives direct guidance on tactics for changing consumer behaviour and examples of how to use them. Solitaire’s favourite tactics are: Take care to get the timing of interventions right, change the status of behaviours to make them desirable and make life-style changes fun. She reminds us while people find it difficult to change behaviours, brands are very good at it.

Where could your brand start, to act on these great insights?

A good place to start with deciding your approach is to pin down why your brand wants to encourage sustainable behaviours and lifestyles, and how this will benefit the people you want to reach — for example, by saving them money or helping them live healthily. You can then choose the approach that best achieves your positive purpose — and be transparent and clear about what that purpose is.

That’s the round-up of articles so far this month. Watch out for more from Sally next week.

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