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Consumer Power

climate change , energy , environment , resources , science and technology , sustainability



In the UK, the energy that individuals use in their homes and for personal transport is responsible for 44 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions. Almost 60 percent of an average UK citizen’s contribution to CO2 comes from using energy in the home and 40 per cent from transport (including flying). Engaging with the public on their domestic energy use and transport choices is therefore critical to reducing the country’s overall contribution to climate change.

Ensuring the right policies are in place to facilitate and encourage behaviour change is critical. But it is also important to design effective communications campaigns.

This project aimed to help efforts to engage the public on climate change to be as effective as possible. Its starting point is that it is time to move beyond targeting the ‘environmentally inclined’ or ‘early adopters’ of climate-friendly behaviours, and reach out to the very substantial group of people who sustain consumer society. This project worked with consumers from different parts of the UK to develop practical, usable recommendations on how to get them to reduce their contribution to climate change. Through deliberative workshops, the project established the barriers to action for this group and identify the most effective ways with which to overcome them. It will test and design communications approaches, techniques and policies to stimulate climate friendly behaviour.

The project was distinctive in explicitly seeking to design both communications and policy approaches targeted at the specific but significant sub-group of the population that drives consumer society. It is distinctive in the level of practical detail is it seeking to uncover, by seeking to understand which messengers and communications channels (not just messages), as well as which policy interventions, would work best to motivate this specific group to take action. It is also distinctive in its methodology, marrying traditional socio-economic segmentation with psychometric segmentation models to reach a better understanding of the psychological and practical motivations involved. This project will use deliberative workshops, rather than focus groups,  to facilitate a more in-depth, two-way dialogue.

This project was made possible with support from Coca Cola, the Energy Saving Trust, the JMG Foundation, the Pilkington Energy Efficiency Trust, Ten Lifestyle Management and the Sustainable Consumption Institute.