Water conservation behavior: is what we say what we do?

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Journal of Consumer Marketing


Purpose: The purpose of this study (mixed-method) was to examine the effectiveness of two types of marketing interventions on water conservation behavior and to compare behaviors to self-reported conservation claims. Design/methodology/approach: This paper consists of four phases (advertisement selection focus group, behavioral trace field study, self-report survey and follow-up focus group). In the USA, residing in a dormitory typically includes a fee for water without quantity restrictions. The subjects for this research were college students who lived in dormitories at a medium-sized university in southeastern USA where metering individual water consumption is not possible. Findings: The results of the field study phase of student water conservation behaviors were not congruent with the participants’ self-reported behaviors. Phase 2 yielded results contrary to published laboratory experimental research in which cause-related claims were effective. Research limitations/implications: This research was limited by a single sample (one university), time (13 weeks) and the inability to measure individual consumption behavior. However, valuable findings were obtained, and suggestions surfaced for future research. Practical implications: Using eco-feedback technology and advertisements may result in significant cost savings. While findings were somewhat inconclusive, there was evidence that the use of the eco-feedback technology could result in cost savings for the subject university. Originality/value: The behavioral trace study is one of the first field research studies in the marketing discipline designed to examine resource conservation behavior in an impactful way. Further, this research used a single sample triangulated methodology across Phases 2, 3 and 4.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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