James Payne of brand purpose consultancy Given London says we must reduce our intake of beef and lamb to help combat the effects of climate change.
There is a rallying cry from environmentalists and global research organisations around the need to drastically reduce the amount of beef and lamb which is produced globally for the world’s richest countries.
Last month, a report published by the Government’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said the number of sheep and cattle in the UK should be reduced by a fifth, and last week the World Resources Institute (WRI) made clear that cutting beef and lamb consumption was required to both prevent ‘catastrophic climate change’ and meet a need to feed 10 billion people by 2050. The main protagonists identified as central to driving change in this area include both farmers, government and the diets of the world’s wealthiest nations, but who should lead this?
In today’s global marketplace supply-side solutions are challenging, if not impossible. Restricting beef and lamb production in the UK for example, will ultimately make little difference to the global environment, if it just means that Brazil ends up cutting down rainforest to create more beef farmed for UK export. Because of this, true change should start with altering consumer behaviour to reduce demand globally, particularly when it comes to what we choose to eat.
This hierarchy of consumer-first change can be seen in the success of other environmental campaigns, albeit targeting separate resources and issues. The reduction of single-use plastic bags picked up pace after the introduction of the plastic bag tax in the UK which targeted consumers directly. Its effectiveness at driving behaviour change is what has now encouraged the latest doubling of the tax in every shop. WildAid’s campaign against killing sharks for fins used in soup mobilised Chinese celebrities to advocate against their consumption direct to consumers.
The organisation used a mixture of consumer-facing messaging, from publicising the dangerously high levels of heavy metals in fins, to arguing the shark’s important but threatened role in marine biodiversity. The campaign resulted in a 70 percent decline in sales of shark fins during the 2013 Spring Festival period. And, in a recent drive by Anglian Water to reduce water wastage, the brand focused on changing the habits and attitudes of its consumers. A mixture of education, messaging about money saving and community engagement were used with consumers to encourage change around how water was used and viewed. As a result, water consumption dropped by almost 10% across 20,000 households in Newmarket, the pilot town for Anglian Water’s ‘Smarter Drop’ campaign.
If consumers must be the lead protagonists in the reduction of beef and lamb production in the UK and across the world, what are the specific actionable ways which will inspire their behaviour change, and are there any specific principles behind this? At Given we often use Fogg’s Behaviour Model to explore the options that exist in encouraging behaviour change.
Fogg suggests that a behaviour will change when the combination of motivation to start a new behaviour and ease of doing so are both triggered. A behaviour that’s easy to do may not need much motivation for a trigger to succeed, while a highly motivated consumer may be successfully triggered despite the new behaviour being more difficult. However, the three principles of motivation, ease of change and a trigger all play an integral role.
Here is an explanatory breakdown of each principle and how they could work to change consumer behaviour in this particular issue:
1) MAKE IT MOTIVATING
2) MAKE IT EASY
3) TRIGGER THE NEW BEHAVIOUR
James Payne is Consultancy Director at Given London, a brand purpose agency that helps businesses grow by doing good.