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Stick it to the plastic water bottles!

Objective of the practical project

What messages of communication are hip and sexy enough to make consumers more aware of how to produce less plastic waste and value water from the faucet more?

This question was answered by a group of part-time students from the business administration program under the guidance of coach Christine Vallaster, head of marketing & relationship management.

The client of the project was BWT (Best Water Technology) AG, founded in 1990, whose headquarters are in Mondsee in upper Austria. BWT manufactures innovative and ecological treatment technologies for private households, industry and commerce, and is committed to providing its customers with the highest level of safety, hygiene and health in their daily use of water.

In December 2016, BWT CEO Andreas Weißenbacher initiated the charitable private foundation AQA Pearls. The foundation serves among other things as an instrument in the communication of water: topics that are important in this regard revolve around water safety and water protection within the context of climate change. This has been defined as an important goal in raising awareness about resource consumption in the use and production of plastic water bottles, which is many times higher than when consuming the same amount of tap water.

Method

Under the direction of student Barbara Rötzer, the project group was asked to identify consumer behaviors, motivations, and emotions in relation to water consumption. A suitable communication strategy for BWT and the foundation needed to be derived from this to enable an authentic communication of water as a valuable resource to consumers and society. In light of their geographical positioning, the regional focus of the consumer analysis was on the greater Salzburg region and Austria.

The first part of the procedure included basic research as well as a rough planning of the empirical procedure. The main tool for gathering relevant data was the focus group, a moderated group discussion of six to ten people which lasted one to two hours on average. The participants of this study were first introduced to the subject by showing a clip on water consumption produced by the students themselves. Painting or crafting was next. The idea behind these kinds of projective techniques was not to verbally express individual opinions, but instead to communicate them to others through another form of expression, and then present and discuss it. Here is an example of a situation experienced:

bwt1

Participant A:

“One topic that concerns me a lot is not just the actual water consumption, i.e. when drinking water or taking a shower, but also the indirect consumption in the production of goods. This indirect consumption is very high in the production of plastic. Every piece of plastic that’s produced consumes vast amounts of water. However, the plastic consumption can be reduced very easily in everyday life and you can save a lot of water. I always make sure to use as little plastic as possible. I generally don’t buy plastic water bottles. I drink tap water from glasses and take a glass bottle with me which I fill with tap water. Even when shopping, it’s easy to do without plastic. I always have several fabric bags that I carry my purchases with so that I don’t have to resort to plastic bags. Also, when buying products, I make sure that they are not, or at least as little as possible, packaged in plastic. This is very easy for me, especially with fruits and vegetables. I also don’t use the small plastic bags that are provided by the supermarket to carry fruits and vegetables. I’m also trying to make sure that I take my own food with me in Tupperware, and use real cutlery that can be rinsed and reused afterwards so I don’t have to go to the supermarket for lunch and buy food packaged in plastic.”

A test focus group and three regular focus groups were performed in total. The project group was then asked to effectively interpret the large amount of data and derive recommendations for possible communication messages. 

General information

Project coach:

Christine Vallaster

Project leader:

Barbara Rötzer

Project members:

Lisa Esteban-Pomarolli, Anna Höller, Annabel Kaschube