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The SHIFT framework: Changing Sustainable Consumer Behaviors for Good

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The SHIFT framework is a practical tool for finding the best ways to encourage ecologically sustainable consumer behavior, whether the solution is a product, a service or behavior change. It is intendent for marketing practitioners, companies large and small, marketing agencies, and societal marketers. The framework is based on a thorough review of the scientific literature on sustainable consumer behavior.
Presentation by professor Kate White, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Published in: Marketing
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The SHIFT framework: Changing Sustainable Consumer Behaviors for Good

  1. 1. The SHIFT Framework: Changing Sustainable Consumer Behaviors for Good
  2. 2. Consumer Behavior and Sustainability  How many Earth’s do we need?  Challenges to encouraging sustainable consumer behaviours
  3. 3. ocial Influence  Social Norms  Social Desirability  Social Group Memberships S
  4. 4. A) Social Norms: Socially driven informal rules that guide behaviour Many unsustainable behaviors are the norm!
  5. 5. Consumer Energy Conservation Example 1207 households in California Information only Descriptive norm Environmental Self-benefit Social responsibility Delivered on door hangers to households for 4 weeks Meter readings of electricity consumption Schultz et al. 2003
  6. 6. 12 12.2 12.4 12.6 12.8 13 13.2 13.4 13.6 13.8 14 14.2 Daily Household Energy Consumption AverageKilowattHoursConsumed perDay Self-interest Social Responsibility Descriptive Norms Environmental Information Only Average Daily Household Energy Consumption
  7. 7. B) Social Desirability Increase social desirability Highlight public settings Ask for public commitments
  8. 8. Associate Sustainable Actions with Aspirational Individuals
  9. 9. Highlight Public Contexts Green and Peloza (2014) Public vs. Private Purchase intentions
  10. 10. Vehicle Purchase Intentions 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Public Private Self-Benefit Enviro-Benefit
  11. 11. C) Social Group Memberships • Membership • Aspirational • Dissociative
  12. 12. Social Groups Example: Don’t Mess with Texas
  13. 13. Dissociative Groups Example Research assistant posing as coffee shop employee offers students a free sample of a coffee product in a compostable cup Manipulation of Reference Group Membership Group Dissociative GroupControl Group White and Simpson 2013
  14. 14. Reference Group Manipulation “We are trying to encourage students to compost because of a new initiative on campus. Recently, a survey was conducted and it found that Business Students (Computing Science) students are the most effective in composting efforts when comparing across the student groups.”
  15. 15. Percent Composting Their Cup 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% Reference Group Type Membership Group Control Group Dissociative Group Implications:
  16. 16. abit Many existing habits are less sustainable Break bad habits Form new positive habits H
  17. 17. A) Breaking Bad Habits: Discontinuity
  18. 18. Breaking Bad Habits: Penalties
  19. 19. B) Forming Positive Habits  Make it easy Defaults…  Give Feedback
  20. 20. Forming Positive Habits  Offer incentives  Use prompts
  21. 21. ndividual Self  Appeal to self-values  Appeal to self-interest  Self-efficacy  Self-concept  Self-consistency I
  22. 22. Appealing to Self-Values
  23. 23. Appealing to Self-Values
  24. 24. Appealing to Self-Interest by Breaking Down Barriers…
  25. 25. Self-Efficacy Ability Efficacy: I can engage in the action Outcome Efficacy: I am confident that my actions will have an impact
  26. 26. Self-Concept  Psychological motive to view the self positively  Men perceive sustainability as being a “feminine” attribute and will avoid eco-friendly options (Brough et al. 2016)
  27. 27. Self-Consistency and Commitment Capitalize on commitment and consistency Once a person commits to something, they are more likely to continue with the positive action Public and durable commitments! McKenzie-Mohr 2011
  28. 28. When Consistency Backfires  Slacktivism: small token public acts towards a cause don’t increase subsequent positive actions  This about how the cause connects to values  Ask for real commitments, not just symbolic displays Kristofferson, White, and Peloza 2016
  29. 29. F eelings Negative emotional Appeals Fear and guilt When do negative emotions work best?
  30. 30. Too much?
  31. 31. Positive emotions Positive emotions Hope  efficacy Make it fun!
  32. 32. T angibility The challenge of sustainable actions: Psychologically distant Abstract, distant, vague, for others… Behaviours with uncertain pay-offs
  33. 33. Make it Tangible: Verify Sustainable Attributes
  34. 34. Bring it to life
  35. 35. Make it Concrete “If everyone in New York City were to wash their laundry in cold water for ONE DAY this would be enough electricity to light up the empire state building for one month”
  36. 36. Use Analogies…
  37. 37. Use Comparisons…
  38. 38. Make impacts clear and local
  39. 39. Case Example: Grasscycling In Calgary The context of grasscycling What exactly do we want to influence?
  40. 40. Case Example: Grasscycling In Calgary Needed to focus on homeowners who had lawns, especially in suburban areas
  41. 41. Case Example: Grasscycling In Calgary Injunctive Norms • Norms that reflect what others think should be done Descriptive Norms • Norms that describe what other people are doing Self-Benefits • What is in it for me?
  42. 42. Self-Benefits ● Think about the benefits for you as an individual if you grasscycle…Think of the time you can save on your yard work. Descriptive Norms ● Your neighbors are grasscycling…Join others in your community in grasscycling this spring and summer. Injunctive Norms ● Your neighbors want you to grasscycle… Grasscycling is something you should do for your community. Social influence and Individual Self
  43. 43. Individual Self • “you as an individual…” • “you can make a difference” Collective Self • “we as a community” • “we can make a difference”
  44. 44. Method Part A: In conjunction with City employees, grasscycling activities for 696 households were recorded for a period of three weeks. Part C: Grasscycling activities recorded for a period of three weeks. Part B: Appeals delivered on door hangers to each household. Varied Level of Self (individual vs. collective) and Appeal Type (self-benefit vs. descriptive norm vs. injunctive norm.
  45. 45. Grass Disposal Difference Scores (T1-T2) -0.495 -0.257 -0.473 -0.392 -0.445 -0.472 -0.25 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 0 Individual/Benefit Individual/Injunctive Individual/Descriptive Collective/Benefit Collective/Injunctive Collective/Descriptive Control **
  46. 46. Grass Disposal Difference Scores (T1-T2) -0.495 -0.257 -0.473 -0.392 -0.445 -0.472 -0.25 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 0 Individual/Benefit Individual/Injunctive Individual/Descriptive Collective/Benefit Collective/Injunctive Collective/Descriptive Control **
  47. 47.  City of Calgary implemented descriptive norms/ collective self messaging  Remember that one concept or tool does not work “best”  Consider goals, the behavior, context, target market, barriers and benefits  Don’t be afraid to combine tools if it is appropriate your case!
  48. 48. Thank You!

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