If your organization is committed to curbing water waste, make that commitment count with consumers

by Oct 12, 2016

Are you, as a company or brand, committed to conserving water? If so, do you talk about it? In a way that consumers can hear you and value the message?

That’s a topic very much on our minds here at the moment. We just published the results of our annual Eco Pulse consumer survey as a downloadable free report:

All Wet?

How consumers perceive the coming water crisis, how much they value water conservation – in general and from the brands they buy – and what it will take to change their behaviors 

The report covers broad territory related to consumers and their perceptions about water use – we touched on both their own willingness to conserve and how much they value it when the companies they buy from do the same.

There are a couple of major themes that emerged from the questions we asked: first, consumers aren’t exactly making a big splash when it comes to personal water conservation. No surprise there, really; our years of experience polling consumers on their energy use shows much the same thing. Consumers didn’t have a clue how much water they use every day, let alone how much they waste when they fail to take simple actions like turning off the water while brushing their teeth. Still, they placed a fair amount of value on the idea of water conservation, rating it as fairly important despite their overall lack of action.

But when we asked respondents to rank CSR activities for a few very specific examples of successful companies (a laptop manufacturer, a beverage maker and a manufacturer of sinks, tubs and toilets), water conservation did consistently well across the board, making the top three of eight potential (and different and specific) activities for each type of company.

We think we’re looking at the classic behavioral science conundrum: consumers may believe water conservation is a good thing, but they aren’t really big on taking action themselves, for a number of reasons. One is that the need to do so hasn’t been made abundantly clear to them; another is inertia; yet another is underlying emotional drivers that haven’t been appealed to in a meaningful way. Over and over again, consumers tell us they think conservation is important, but they mostly want someone else to do it for them.

Ergo, the idea of brands conserving water appeals to them greatly. There are obviously things we must do to get consumers to take more personal action – and we believe the opportunity for targeted education campaigns is huge and largely untapped – but there’s also an enormous, meaningful opportunity for brand leadership on this subject. If you’re conserving water or contributing to water-related causes, are you getting your message out there? Because our results show that consumers are listening. And they might just need your example to look up to.

Which brings us to the hows of getting your message out and telling your story. Our research tells us what different market segments think about water conservation (including Millennials, who might not be quite the receptive audience you think they are). Read our report to get the full survey background and the marketing insights we derived from our poll. And let us know if it sparks an idea you want to explore together.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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