Consumentenonderzoek: Van traditionele vragenlijsten naar online onderzoek

Making energy-saving easier for businesses

By simply modifying the e-mail message it sends to companies about energy saving, the government is encouraging industry to save more energy. Insights into the message recipient's behaviour helped to improve communication.

By simply modifying the e-mail message it sends to companies about energy saving, the government is encouraging industry to save more energy. Insights into the message recipient's behaviour helped to improve communication.

The government has made agreements with industry to reduce industrial energy consumption. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency monitors the progress of these agreements and sends the companies a detailed e-mail with a tailor-made report on the agreements. In this way, the government hopes to encourage large-scale energy consumers to use energy more efficiently. However, research carried out by a team of behavioural researchers from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) showed that only 14% of the recipients read the report.

‘Fortunately, we can do something about this,' says Eva van den Broek from Wageningen Economic Research, who participated in the study. Together with colleagues from the EZK team, she conducted a behavioural-economic experiment among 500 company energy coordinators. Some of them received a modified e-mail message about the energy report that was more personal, had more concise and clear wording, and contained a direct link to the report.

Low-cost

Van den Broek adapted the message on the basis of the feedback from interviews with the company energy coordinators and scientific insights into people's motives in organisations. Recipients of the modified message were found to download the report three times as often. What's more, they also appeared to make more frequent use of the advice in the report and discuss it more often with the company's management.

This shows how a simple, low-cost measure can successfully bring about a change in behaviour.
Eva van den Broek, researcher

As a result of this experiment, the government is going to change how it communicates with these companies.

Platform for knowledge on behaviour

Van den Broek believes that a lot of policy can be improved by using behavioural insights. In light of this, she is in the process of setting up a platform, Behavioural Insights Netherlands. This platform is based on the behavioural insights team in the UK, where 250 people are working on smarter policies through the use of behavioural knowledge. The new platform will connect the researchers from different universities with knowledge of behaviour with policy officers from ministries. It builds on an existing network of policy officers from various ministries who want to deploy behavioural knowledge.

Living lab is a new research approach where we not only use a lab-environment, but where we test behavioural insights in a multi-disciplinairy way and in a 'real-life'-situation with 'real people'. WUR, for instance, uses this method for behavioural research on nutrition and climate change.