So … a Baptist minister, a shriner, a veterinarian, an executive director and a retired aerospace engineer sat down for an interview. No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke – it was my itinerary last week on a TV shoot for one of our utility clients. The objective: to garner a variety of perspectives from this very diverse group on a single, fundamental question. “Why do you conserve energy?” You may find their responses surprising – I certainly did.
As demographically broad as our group was, their answers were not. The fundamental retort was “I conserve because I care about the world around me.” Sure, financial benefits were mentioned and comfort was key – but ultimately, conserving was simply part of a larger value system.
This may not seem like a particularly useful piece of information in light of the fact that “do the right thing” is not a great messaging strategy. Our research shows that people respond better to benefits and financial motivators than appeals to the common good – much better, in fact. Successful campaigns seeking to appeal to the masses will continue to lead with those benefits.
A valuable truth, however, was revealed. As each individual shared his or her conservation stories, they all connected their sustainability efforts to their fundamental values. At some point in their respective journeys, it had occurred to them that the principles of conservation were already embedded in a larger personal belief system.
This insight tells us that packaging green behaviors as part of a preexisting value system may be a much easier sell than presenting them as newfangled actions that a consumer should adopt. We’ve already done extensive research into underlying values systems (aka “worldviews”) – and we’ll be blogging about several creative campaigns based on this thinking in the next few months. Stay tuned!