Truth | Insights


photo of Christopher Davies  | 

Even though Britain is renowned for rain, water scarcity is an ever-increasing problem, especially as population demand grows and our climate changes. Many water supplies are already overstretched, with predictions of significant supply shortages by the 2050s[1]. Despite concerns of water literally running out, we are pretty good at wasting it! Estimates state that as much as one third of water taken from the natural environment is wasted through leaks, treatment losses and in the home[2].

As consumers, we use on average 150 litres of water a day[3], but the notion of saving it or being more efficient doesn’t seem to be a priority. This behaviour plays to a cognitive bias known as discounting the future. When rewards (i.e. having a plentiful water supply in the future) are very distant in time, they cease to be valuable – we discount the future in favour of today.

Metering water could be the answer, as meters make our usage feel more immediate. Smart meter technology is also on the rise, which utilises radio frequency technology to send hourly information to companies and consumers. The National Infrastructure Commission reported as much as a 15% reduction in average consumption with a meter, with this rising to 17% with the use of smart meters[4]. Converting your water supply to one that uses a meter feels like a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily… not everyone is convinced of the benefits and some worry that smart metering will lead to consumers paying more.

In parallel to the domestic market, the recent launch of the water retail market in April 2017 has been hailed as the most significant change in water provision in recent history. More than 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector consumers can now choose their water provider for the first time[5]. Those eligible are now able to negotiate a better deal with their existing company or to switch, no longer being restricted to buying water services from their regional monopoly. Overall, this could deliver lower bills as new offers and deals emerge with people able to shop around and find the best package for them. As with the domestic market, this feels like a win-win…however awareness is low, with reports suggesting less than 5% of the market has engaged[6].

From a supplier perspective, across both the domestic and retail markets, there is a clear opportunity to not only educate consumers, but to nudge and steer them into more environmentally friendly and fundamentally cheaper water usage. In addition to this, through education, providers have an opportunity to boost brand affinity in an increasingly competitive landscape.

At McCann our fully integrated offer can help you better understand the insight underpinning your consumers’ everyday behaviour, how to impact and change it and most importantly how to encourage them to choose you. If this sounds like something we can help you with, or if you just want to have a chat about the future of water, then get in touch!

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