To coincide with a public debate on mainstreaming sustainable living, Unilever has on November 23 published the behaviour change model its marketers use to encourage sustainable changes in consumer living habits: ‘Five Levers for Change’.
Based on Unilever’s long history of research and insights into consumer behaviour, the tool is based on a set of key principles, which, if applied consistently to behaviour change interventions, increases the likelihood of having an effective and lasting impact. Unilever is sharing the model in the hope that others will find it helpful and use it to inspire people to turn their concerns about sustainability into positive actions.
The model outlines five techniques to apply when looking to encourage new behaviours based on five key insights. The ‘Five Levers for Change’ are:
- Make it understood. Sometimes people don’t know about a behaviour and why they should do it. This Lever raises awareness and encourages acceptance.
- Make it easy. People are likely to take action if it’s easy, but not if it requires extra effort. This Lever establishes convenience and confidence.
- Make it desirable. The new behaviour needs to fit with how people like to think of themselves, and how they like others to think of them. This Lever is about self and society.
- Make it rewarding. New behaviours need to articulate the tangible benefits that people care about. This Lever demonstrates the proof and payoff.
- Make it a habit. Once consumers have changed, it is important to create a strategy to help hold the behaviour in place over time. This Lever is about reinforcing and reminding.
“We have been working hard to distil those critical areas of behaviour change insight that we all need to use to engage consumers,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “We are publishing our approach because we think that there are wider benefits from sharing our work with others.”
“A huge part of our environmental impacts come from how people use our products; two thirds of the greenhouse gas impacts across the lifecycle and about half of our water footprint is associated with consumer use. So inspiring consumers to adopt new sustainable products and behaviours is fundamental to achieving the goals set out in the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan,” added Polman.
‘Five Levers for Change’ is published in a booklet which also contains a series of personal perspectives on sustainable living by leading experts on sustainability and behaviour change from around the world, including Forum for the Future Founder Jonathon Porritt, Akatu Institute for Conscious Consumption President Helio Mattar, and behaviour change specialist Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Unilever Shower Study
Unilever has committed to halve the environmental impacts of its products across their lifecycle by 2020 as part of its Sustainable Living Plan. Over two-thirds of Unilever’s greenhouse gas impacts come from consumer use of its products, such as heating water to wash, cook and clean. To coincide with the debate and publication, Unilever also published on November 23findings from the first ever UK shower study to monitor actual shower behaviour instead of what people say they do in the shower.
This showed that the average Briton spends eight minutes in the shower, costs the average UK family £416 a year and that power showers use nearly twice as much energy and water as an ordinary bath.