How chocolate bears changed the attitudes of New Zealanders to energy efficient light bulbs.

How market research helped New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) encourage New Zealanders to use energy more efficiently at home, at work and on the road

By Ipsos, a leading worldwide market research company.


Energy-efficient behaviour becomes second nature and is enacted without thought in everyday life

EECA’s 7+ year partnership with Ipsos had yielded huge success in the area of home insulation, with research insights being key to the development of communications and strategy that contributed to the insulation of nearly 300,000 homes. Getting people to do what’s ‘socially right’ is always a challenge, even if it’s for their own good. Working together Ipsos and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority embarked on a research programme to get more New Zealanders using energy efficient light bulbs (EELBs).


Quantitative and qualitative techniques combination

Ipsos and EECA recognised that a different research approach was required to understand how best to evolve the EELBs proposition. Using an approach normally reserved for consumer goods, Ipsos designed a multi-staged innovation program to effect attitudinal and behavioural change. The research program involved six stages of research: 1) Kick-off workshop to recap on the findings to date and develop propositions for testing; 2) Focus groups in Auckland and Wellington amongst non-/low-medium users of EELBs to test concepts for resonance and clarity; 3) Online nationwide quantitative study to measure the appeal of the propositions developed and decide which ones to take forward; 4) Focus groups in Auckland and Wellington amongst non-/low-medium users of EELBs to test storyboard propositions prior to production; 5) Monitoring results post-launch through EECA Consumer Monitor; 6) Online nationwide quantitative study amongst non-/low-medium users of EELBs to evaluate in-depth behavioural impact of the TVCs and future direction.

So what?

Identification of key barriers, new communication and stakeholders involvement plan

Having multiple qualitative and quantitative stages that built upon one another, the program identified the key barriers to using EELBs, the best way to articulate and overcome these barriers, and the most compelling ways to communicate these ideas to the New Zealand public in a way that would get them to change their views. The end product was a campaign dubbed “Bear Grills”, which used melting chocolate teddy bears as a device to illustrate how traditional light bulbs wasted most of their energy on heat and not light, making the intangible tangible. The impact of the 2013 campaign has been significant; with EELBs over-taking traditional light-bulb value share for the first time ever (a momentum that has continued to the present) and the research being instrumental to this social change. Given the campaign’s success, there has been a change in how EECA engages with the light bulb commercial sector. Major light-bulb manufactures and retailers are now working more closely in partnership with EECA.