Reduce Your Juice: Assisting Low-income Households to Better Manage Their Energy Use

Reduce Your Juice

Project dates: 01/04/2013 - 30/11/2015

This project aimed to reduce energy consumption for low-income households through an innovative digital social marketing intervention with $6.5m funding from the Australian Government as part of the Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP).

Why is this important?

Household budgets strain as retail energy prices increase. Low-income earners are a particularly vulnerable group in society with limited resources and large energy bills; often spending disproportionally more of their income on energy. Young low-income renters aged 18-35 lack a sense of control in their lives due to a high cost of living and limited employment. While this group is sceptical of government programs, they are highly engaged digitally and motivated by financial and environmental benefits.

Past approaches to energy saving behaviour such as education or information campaigns have been less effective due to low levels of interest and motivation. Therefore, a behavioural learning approach was selected to help young low-income renters improve energy efficiency behaviour where the focus was on changing behaviour not on changing attitudes or knowledge levels.

What did we do?

Reduce Your Juice is a social marketing program led by CitySmart (Brisbane City Council’s sustainability agency) in partnership with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), BCM, QCOSS, Energex and The Good Guys. During 2015 and 2016, two rounds of Reduce Your Juice took place with low-income renters aged 18-35 in South-East Queensland.

Over 1000 households completed the 8-week program, making it through all the tasks and challenges to unlock a major reward at the end. The digital program combined mobile games, SMS and social media to help the target market implement simple ideas to save electricity and reduce their electricity bills. Avatars (the Watt family) were used to guide players through the experience.

What did we find out?

  • 12.3% improvement in energy consumption on previous year
  • $54.82 average saving on quarterly electricity bills ($219.28 annual saving)
  • 22.5% improvement in energy habits
  • 78% of starters completed the program
  • 97.2% recommended RYJ to friends and family
  • Significant improvement in attitudes, bill control, self-efficacy.
  • Energy efficiency attitudes improved by 46%
  • Games were played 5 times more than needed to gain rewards

Funding / Grants

  • Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (2013 - 2015)

Chief Investigators

Other Team Members

  • Tim Swinton – Project Manager (CitySmart)
  • Jo-Anne Little (CitySmart)
  • Emma Kloda (CitySmart)
  • Margarita Camus (CitySmart)
  • Cherie Pasion (CitySmart)

Partners

Other Partners

  • Energex
  • QCOS
  • The Good Guys
  • Bigfish (Digital communications)
  • Evoke Communications (PR Agency)

Publications

  • Mulcahy, R. F., McAndrew, R., Russell-Bennett, R., Iacobucci, D. (2021). “Game on!” Pushing consumer buttons to change sustainable behavior: a gamification field study. European Journal of Marketing. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/EJM-05-2020-0341/full/html
  • Mulcahy, Rory, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Iacobucci, Dawn (2020) Designing gamified apps for sustainable consumption: A field study Journal of Business Research, 106, pp.377-387.
  • McKinnon, Heather, Foth, Marcus, Sade, Gavin (2020) 1300 Pieces of Rubbish: A Collaborative Approach to Making Sense of Everyday Resource Sufficiency in the Home DIS 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, DIS 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, pp.1351-1364.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory, McAndrew, Ryan, Swinton, Tim, Little, Jo, Horrocks, Neil (2017) Challenging the myths of the low income earner with a digital mobile program: Reduce your juice World Social Marketing Conference, pp.1-1.
  • Johnson, Daniel, Horton, Ella, Mulcahy, Rory, Foth, Marcus (2017) Gamification and serious games within the domain of domestic energy consumption: A systematic review Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 73, pp.249-264.
  • Yam, Zanmei Alpha, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Foth, Marcus, Mulcahy, Rory (2017) How does serious m-game technology encourage low-income households to perform socially-responsible behaviors? Psychology and Marketing, 34 (4), pp.394-409.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory (2018) How playing games on your phone or tablet could cut your power bill The Conversation, January, pp.1-3.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory, McAndrew, Ryan, Swinton, Tim, Little, Jo Anne, Horrocks, Neil, Hastings, Gerard, Domegan, Christine (2018) Reduce your juice: A digital social marketing programme for reducing residential electricity use Social Marketing: Rebels with a Cause (3rd Edition). [3rd ed.], pp.346-356.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory, Little, Jo, Swinton, Tim (2018) Money or mind? What matters most in influencing low-income earners to be energy efficient? Journal of Social Marketing, 8 (1), pp.2-23.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory, Letheren, Kate, McAndrew, Ryan, Swinton, Tim, Horrocks, Neil, Ossington, Reid (2017) Innovating energy markets: A hybrid persona/segment approach Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, (42520), pp.764-764.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Mulcahy, Rory, McAndrew, Ryan, Swinton, Tim, Little, Jo-Anne, Foth, Marcus (2016) Can a digital approach change low-income energy saving behaviours? International Social Marketing Conference (ISMC).

Website

View the Reduce Your Juice website here.

Reduce Your Juice – Did it work

Energy Efficiency Tips from Reduce Your Juice

Media

  • ‘How playing games on your phone or tablet could cut your power bill’ – The Conversation [read article]

Awards and Recognition

International:

  • 2016 Best Academic paper award, International Social Marketing Association
  • 2016 Silver award, w3 Awards, Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, New York, USA
  • 2016 Honoree Mobile Sites and Apps, Webby Awards

National:

  • 2016 Winner Best Mobile Marketing, Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Excellence in Marketing
  • 2015 Winner Best Residential Energy Efficiency Project, National Energy Efficiency Awards

State:

  • 2016 Queensland Winner Best Mobile Innovation, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) iAwards
  • 2016 Queensland Winner Best Consumer Research Insights, Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Excellence in Marketing