How do you encourage society to opt for more sustainable mobility behaviour?

Peter Boss, Daniel Perschy & Roshani Anna Amin
June 18, 2021
Mobility, Sustainability
It’s no secret that we need to adopt more sustainable behaviour and mobility is no exception.

Intro

However, often the path governments opt for is a long-term approach. With this in mind, it is difficult to generate a quick, more current solution. While it is important to have a long-term plan in place, many organisations are looking to see if there are alternative, more immediate ways to encourage users to opt for more sustainable mobility behaviour. It is, therefore, no surprise that a bottom-up or nudging approach has caught the attention of many organisations. According to AIM, the European Brands Association, this approach “looks at influencing people’s behaviour positively and without constraints, based on Behavioural Insights.” Indeed, by suggesting desirable alternatives, people will naturally be drawn to these options and, by making them more sustainable, the greater goal is being reached.

With this in mind, Baloise, on its mission to build the future of mobility, embarked on a challenge to find out if there is a potential for a solution to encourage people towards sustainable mobility behaviour.

The Process

The first step in this project was to carry out a qualitative research study. The team conducted exploratory interviews with 10 experts across the fields of mobility, environmental sciences and behavioural change as well as with community leaders from areas including biking and sustainable living. Interviews revealed some key insights such as that “group identity motivates people to change their habits” and although obvious to some, “when people don't have the needed infrastructure they will not choose the sustainable option over the convenient choice.”

With the research and new insights in mind, the next step was to develop ideas for an (actual) potential solution. In total there were 10 ideas that ranged from an online marketplace to lease (personal) mobility equipment to a product that encourages community members to volunteer to run errands for others like grocery shopping or dog walking.

Two ideas were chosen (based on what was seen to create the most pleasant and joyful to use sustainable option) and then prototyped on a conceptual level before being tested. It was important to form and then test conceptual clickable prototypes in order to learn from potential users and see if encouraging users towards sustainable modes of transport was actually possible.

The Prototypes: solutions in the making!

Prototype 1 : A Sustainable Map 

The sustainable map tries to encourage users to be more sustainable by placing things in a visually appealing way compared to the non-sustainable means of transportation. For example, the more eco-friendly route of travel was shown with trees and vibrant colours. Not only did this indicate that this was the “greener” option but also was presented in a way to seem visually appealing to users, encouraging them to choose that route. 

Prototype 2 : A Mobility Challenge

Meanwhile, the mobility challenge focused on creating a motivational and at times competitive system for sustainable change. The mobility challenge rewarded environmentally friendly mobility choices through “eco points”, “awards” and “trophies” as well as enforcing competition among friends, colleagues, and strangers. Monetary incentives were not included and in fact, one expert from the research interviews pointed out that “it is very important to people to gain social validation for their behaviour. The biggest triggers for people to change their behaviour are their friends, peers and family.” Accordingly, the Mobility Challenge was designed with a competitive but fun streak, to motivate this positive behavioural change towards mobility.
 

The Outcome: moving forward

Of the two prototypes, the Mobility Challenge received the greater acceptance. Although the Sustainable Map did receive attention, it became clear that gamification and competition are highly attractive in the context of mobility. Users stated that they would indeed change their mobility behaviour to improve their ranking or succeed in challenges. Much to popular belief, the trial revealed that monetary rewards in comparison were not as significant an incentive compared to improving users' sustainability “level”. In this context and in the world of mobility it seems that friendly competition can outrank monetary gain.

To continue to see what motivates users to opt for sustainable mobility choices and behaviour, this project could also gain qualitative feedback on the aspects that trigger people and that excites them. A next step could be, to find out in a long term test if people actually would engage and change and new experiments are needed to find that out.

'What are your sustainable motivations? What has changed your behaviour towards sustainability? We are curious to know!' In particular, Baloise is continuously on the search for ways to encourage the adoption of sustainable modes of transport. Do you think your venture or idea has what it takes to make people change their behaviour, reach out to futuremobility@baloise.com.
 

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