Getting the water-saving message across

Last year Affinity Water faced a real challenge around how to communicate water-saving messages during a washout summer.

Following the driest winter in 2016-17 in the south east for 20 years, groundwater levels were well below average, meaning saving water was more important than ever.

But with the grey, wet weather seemingly confirming the UK’s rainy reputation, combined with water using behaviours taking place in the privacy of people’s homes, often behind locked bathroom doors, we knew we had to do something different.

We approached Hubbub, an environmental charity known for its highly engaging and effective behaviour change campaigns, to create a new water-saving campaign #TapChat. #TapChat focuses on hidden water using habits to get people thinking, talking and taking action on water efficiency.

The campaign was informed by national polling and household research and insight from our customers.

The polling found:

24% of people take water for granted

76% are not concerned about household water use

31% think they could use less water if needed

68% leave the tap on when cleaning their teeth

9.14 minutes was the average time spent in the shower.

Relevant messaging

It was evident there was a huge amount of work to do, considering the south east receives only half the amount of rainfall compared to the rest of England, meaning it has less water available per person than Morocco.

The key challenge was to make messaging resonate and relevant. Hubbub proposed segmenting the audience by lifestyle, so that saving water fits easily into people’s daily lives, by highlighting that small changes can make huge water savings.

For example, a simple action like leaving the tap off when you brush your teeth saves over 6,500 litres per person per year.

The social media campaign includes an online quiz to let people find out what type of water user they are. After completing their quiz, people receive water-saving tips to suit their lifestyle and a video message from a fellow ‘day dreamer’, ‘water hero’, ‘busy bee’, ‘super clean’ or ‘easy going’ profile. This campaign is supported by videos, vlogs and public engagement events.

In the initial phase, Hubbub supported 40 households with home visits, #Tapchat water-saving kits and facilitated peer support via a private Facebook group. It was great to see how open people were to saving water and sharing their private water using habits with others online.

This work demonstrated that water is not something people usually spend much time thinking or talking about unless prompted, and that there is a real lack of awareness about where water is used at home and how people can save water.

The good news was, despite this lack of awareness, there was a real willingness to change daily habits to save water.

A key to success for the pilot phase was the engaging, playful and shareable messaging which was developed through research and insight.

As the campaign was Hubbub branded, it gave us the opportunity to share content with other water companies and stakeholders through the development of campaign collaborators. Collaborators received suggested messaging and design collateral they could use free of charge, increasing reach.

Affinity Water is delighted to have recently launched the second phase #TapChat with Hubbub, which will consolidate work from the pilot phase.

We are looking for organisations to join the #TapChat as campaign collaborators. To join the #TapChat visit https://www.hubbub.org.uk/Event/join-the-tapchat

Melissa Painter

Melissa Painter

Water Saving Programme education manager, Affinity Water

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