How Unilever inspires people

While most people say they are concerned about sustainability issues and want to live sustainable lifestyles, there is a gap between good intentions and taking action.

Unilever has a long history in sustainability and they use of marketing and market research to promote behaviour change. 2 billion consumers worldwide are using Unilever products every day. Looking at the impact of their business on the planet, they figured out that their sourcing, manufacturing and distribution processes only account for 31% of this impact. 68% accounts for the way that people use the products. And if they want to further reduce the impact of their business, they have to inspire people to use their products in more sustainable ways and change their consumption behavior.

In November 2011, Unilever published ‘5 Levers for Change’, a set of principles and techniques their marketers use to inspire behaviour change habits. These five levers are:

  1. Make it understood so that people know what to do, and why its a good thing to do it
  2. Make it easy: people follow the path of least resistance, so make the new behaviour easy
  3. Make it desirable so that people want to do it, and make it fit with how people want to be thought of and how they like others to think of them
  4. Make it rewarding: people need feedback and need to be sure that it’s rewarding and worthwhile
  5. Make it a habit: it takes time for a new behaviour to become a habit, remind them of the habit so that they do the right one