Tuesday, November 14, 2023
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Promoting Sustainable Housing through Reality TV and Behavioural Science: A Communication Strategy
Session ID
C4 - Approaches to Innovative Marketing and Outreach
Behavior - based Programs
Danie Nilsson

Increasing the uptake of sustainable housing is critical for reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions worldwide. This requires changing consumer behaviour and organisational systems at scale, yet practical and cost-effective methods to achieve this goal are challenging. One potential solution involves harnessing reality television: a communication medium that can reach millions of people globally and has been found to influence viewers’ behaviour, including purchasing decisions and actions. Therefore, a new 8-episode lifestyle reality TV series – titled ‘Renovate or Rebuild’ – was recently created with the aim of encouraging viewers to integrate more energy efficient and sustainable choices into their homes. To achieve optimal impact, behavioural science was incorporated into the show’s design, including techniques such as message framing, normative influence, and social modelling. The success of this approach was measured via a mixed-method study involving three longitudinal online surveys (n=5,142) and online focus groups (n=23). Survey data for viewers and non-viewers of the show was then compared over time. Results revealed that viewers of the show were significantly more likely to report seeking out information and intending to purchase and/or install products featured in the show than non-viewers. Furthermore, viewers were significantly more likely to consider having a ‘home energy star rating above the minimum standards for Australia’ as a ‘must have feature’ when choosing a home to live in, and importantly, this finding increased as viewers watched more of the TV series content. With a total reach of over 3.2 million views, ‘Renovate or Rebuild’ is an example of an innovative strategic communications approach that blends behavioural science, digital media and rigorous monitoring and evaluation to encourage greater sustainable housing. This framework can be applied to other important social and environmental causes that require change at scale, worldwide.

Supporting Document 1