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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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In the modernized world, automobile transport is an integral part of society. One that both, the developing and developed world rely greatly upon for efficient mobility. Transportation is also a huge sector that is dependent on fossil fuel, and thus a major source of energy consumption. The ‘‘use of motorized forms of transport like automobiles increase pollution, consume natural resources, and contribute to carbon emissions— the transport sector contributes approximately 15% of global CO2 emissions (10% of that is motor vehicles)'' (UNEP, 2017, page. ).

Although in recent years, there has been a shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles and a technological advancement in the electronic vehicle industry, there is still a long way to go before achieving complete carbon neutrality. In many countries, alternatives to private vehicles like public transportation, cycling and walking is encouraged, however, these practices do not offset emissions from the rest of the world. Apart from the environmental benefits, reducing our dependence on motorized vehicles can ease traffic congestion, reduce air and noise pollution and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Since a large part of our society has been historically designed to use personal cars for everyday commute, and the infrastructure of the cities and suburbs isn't very accommodative of commuters on bicycles, a large effort needs to be made to convince individuals to choose other modes of transport over cars. ‘‘There is an increasing need for travel behavior change at a population level, which may require collaboration between the transportation, environment, and public health sectors'' (Xia, Zhang et al., 2017, pg.594). Behavioural insights has helped design campaigns that encourage sustainable routines and develop strategies to promote less use of motorized personal vehicles. This paper aims to outline several of these social-behavioural strategies and analyse projects from around the world that have successfully implemented different programs based on them.

Malmo, Sweden Case Study

The city of Malmö in Sweden is attempting to discourage people from taking small trips in their cars, when they can choose alternative ways of travel like walking or cycling. ‘‘A 2003 poll revealed that half of all car trips made in the city were less than 5 kilometres'' (UNEP, 2017, page. 35). And since this distance is too short for the car's engine to  reach its optimal efficiency temperature, there is a particularly high fuel consumption with high emission production (abc.multimodal, Evaluation of the campaign "Brains on: Engines off").

The city officials implemented this campaign to reduce the number of short distance trips taken in their cars. This could be done with the promotion of bike transits and walking. The sustainable transit campaign was titled ‘No Ridiculous Car Trips' to emphasis how unnecessary and avoidable driving was in Malmo (UNEP, 2017, page 34). The goal was to get motorists to try out using bicycles once, and they would experience the sense of ease, freedom and flexibility. The use of the word ‘ridiculous' was very deliberate in order to bring a sense of inferiority to those driving alone in the car, not joining in the new social norm of using a bicycles instead. Part of the campaign was to make cyclists map certain routes in the city, and when they were doing so, they were made to wear silver helmets and orange clothing to pique interests of the onlookers.

 Another important part of the campaign was to ask people about their ‘most ridiculous' trip taken. This gave them a sense of confessional closure, motivating them to make a change next time by choosing not to drive. Furthermore, the person with the most ridiculous trip was also gifted a bicycle, leaving them with no excuse to continue their driving (Lang, 2010).

In conclusion, there was an overwhelmingly positive feedback to the campaign with 80% of the Malmo citizens thinking of the switch to less cars as a good thing (Lang, 2010). ‘‘Of the interviewed inhabitants, 21% which were aware of the campaign, changed their view on taking the car for short trips due to the campaign. 15% of them stated that they drive less as a result of it'' (abc.multimodal, Evaluation of the campaign “No Ridiculous Car Trips”). And most importantly, all of the people who changed their mobility behavior because of this campaign believed that they will continue cycling in the long run instead of driving (abc.multimodal, Evaluation of the campaign “No Ridiculous Car Trips”).

Japan Case Study

Japanese officials are using Travel Feedback Programmes (TFPs) to encourage the public to use more sustainable modes of transport (UNEP, 2017, page. 34). To be better able to curb the traffic congestion in residential areas and commuter rush-hours, mobility programs designed on the basis of communication and behavioral strategies were developed in several japanese provinces and cities. ‘‘Personalized communication, incentives, and marketing techniques targeting personal travel behaviour'' were used to design most TFPs (UNEP, 2017, page. 34). These nudges were labeled soft-measures or psychological and behavioral strategies (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 339) and each campaign was uniquely based on them in either schools, residential areas or workplaces.

One such TFP was carried out in Hyogo Prefecture, Suita and Obihiro (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 341). Individuals were asked to make a behavioural plan for changing their travel habits as ‘‘behavioural intention are actually implemented only when implementation intentions are formed'' (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 341). Since individuals are setting their own goals, they will have a greater sense of commitment and know which type of transport alternative is best suited for them. They will also put more thought into how they will carry out their commute through visualizing their route, budgeting their travel costs for the month, and managing their time schedules accordingly. The illustration below from Fujii & Taniguchi's report better depicts the difference between intention and plan.

This strategy was proven to be quite successful with a much greater behavioural-change effect seen in a TFP with a behavioural plan compared to the one without (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 341).

Furthermore, in some cities, TFPs were designed with more than one soft-measure in order to create a more effective result. For example, in Obhiro (where the goal was the increase public transport usage), along with asking its inhabitants to make a behavioural plan on how to use public transport, they were also provided with general information about the bus timetables and routes by mail. This resulted in a 100% increase in bus use by the end of the TFP (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 341).

Most of the TFPs were designed so that travelers have a sense of responsibility towards implementing their behavioral-change plan, and they were provided with helpful information, in some cases personalized information, which was meant to complement their plan. This way they were left with little to no excuse for failing to follow through. The TFPs also made ‘‘the negative impacts of travel methods more salient through information about carbon emissions or health effects'', resulting in heightened awareness about achieving self-betterment and societal good through sustainable travel (UNEP, 2017, page. 34).

 A survey of ‘‘ten TFPs resulted in a 19% reduction in CO2 emissions, an 18% reduction in car use, and a 50% increase in public transport use'' (Fujii & Taniguchi, 2006, pg 344). Thus, in conclusion, the various behavioural and communicative strategies implemented in Japan lead to a positive shift towards a more environmentally friendly transit system.

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