The New Year is a popular time to “turn over a new leaf”. Around the world people will be launching into January with fresh resolve and determination to pursue new habits. Hordes of enthusiastic resolution-ers will sign up for new gym memberships and diets and take up new hobbies. But, despite the best intentions, by the second week of February, 80 percent of resolutions will have been shelved.

That’s because it takes more than just resolve to form a new habit and unfortunately it takes more than six weeks. The 1950’s based theory that it takes just 21 days to form a new habit has been blown apart. More modern and popular theories suggest it takes a minimum of two months and up to 250 days for a new behavior to become automatic1.

With the Net Zero target looming ever larger, water and energy companies are under pressure to help their customers reduce their consumption, eliminate waste and take sustainable actions. That requires customers to learn new habits.

There are plenty of good habits that it would be helpful to encourage – such as taking shorter showers, turning the thermostat down, fixing leaky loos, turning appliances off standby, only filling the kettle with the amount of water required, turning the tap off when brushing teeth – and so the list goes on.

How do you form a new habit?

According to our expert Behavioural Science advisor, Professor Paul Dolan, author of the bestselling book “Happiness by Design”, there are three stages to forming a new habit – Decide, Design and Do.

  • Decide – First you must decide what new habit you want to form.
  • Design – You must then create bite sized goals that are achievable and that you can accommodate in your life. You must also create a strategy for remembering them – such as setting reminders.
  • Do – The final step is to take the required action.

We are here to help you advise your customers on how they can reduce their consumption, stop “bad” habits, and more importantly, deliver regular reminders designed to help them sustain their new behaviors and habits.

Our customer engagement platform and solutions use behavioral science based techniques called ‘nudging’. The nudge theory first came to the world’s attention in 2008, when Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book, ‘Nudge’, proposed the theory that people are often unable to make good decisions when they lack experience, context, knowledge, or are overcome with inertia. For instance, people are more likely to put their seatbelt on if they hear an alarm. The theory suggests that we often allow our autonomous nervous system to make decisions on our behalf, bypassing the conscious thinking process. The solution often involves guiding (nudging) people in the right direction – towards the more beneficial option.

A growing volume of research reveals that energy and water consumption behavior is not always rational and can benefit from nudges designed to encourage households to reduce consumption.

A nudge in the right direction

Here’s how we can help your customers create new and sustainable habits to reduce their consumption.

We help them ‘decide’
We use data science to ascertain and understand what messages are most appropriate and will have the most impact on an individual household. That way we can be sure that when suggesting ways to reduce consumption by adopting new habits – we can be sure that we are targeting the right customer with the right messages.

We help them ‘design’
We consistently nudge customers through regular communications via appropriate channels – to remind them what they need to do and why they’re doing it. Our neighbor comparison reports are proven to be extremely effective at nudging customers towards taking actions in order to compete or perform in line with their more efficient neighbor’s consumption.

We help them ‘do’
Our communications provide motivation over a prolonged period to keep customers on track. We also measure and track results to ensure the effectiveness of our campaigns – making sure that the customer is made aware of the gains they have achieved from the actions they have taken.

We know that there is an appetite amongst consumers to reduce consumption and help meet the world’s Net Zero targets. A report by Nesta found that 85 per cent2 of consumers agree that climate change is one of the most important issues that needs addressing. However it also found that many consumers are not clear on what measures they need to be taking and are looking to their suppliers to help them understand what they need to do.

Octopus Energy has already taken the initiative and lead by nudging its customers during a Winter Workout competition. By following simple energy saving tips on a regular basis, participating customers will be able to cut their energy bills and save unnecessary carbon emissions while keeping their homes warm this winter.

How will you nudge your customers towards reducing their consumption? Can you help them change their behaviors and habits in a sustainable way? We’d love to help you. Get in touch or book a demo and let’s bring some New Year’s cheer to the climate crisis.

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