Author(s): Stijn Brouwer; Nicolien Van Aalderen; Stef Koop
Linked Author(s): Stijn Brouwer
Keywords: Water awareness; Water Conservation; Pro-environmental behaviour; Customer segmentation; Perception
Abstract: Despite the often emphasized importance of water awareness, and notwithstanding the fact that calls for increasing public awareness are becoming commonplace, most studies do not define the concept, let alone operationalise it into measurable units. This is, however, essential to measure and evaluate efforts related to water awareness such as public campaigns, customer communication and other interventions. To address this gap, we conceptualise, operationalise and assess tap water awareness, hereby differentiating between cognitive awareness (head), affectional awareness (heart), and behavioural awareness (hands). In parallel, we also differentiate between tap water quality, quantity and system. By building on a variety of contemporary conceptual insights in literature and a series of expert interviews, an assessment framework is developed. A cohesive set of nine awareness components are identified and operationalised into a set of tangible questions which are put to the test in a large-scale online survey in the Netherlands, applying both a traditional and modern segmentation approach based on four types of perspectives (‘quality & health concerned’, ‘aware & committed’, ‘egalitarian & solidary’, and ‘down to earth & confident’). Based on the analysis of the results of the first empirical application of our tap water awareness assessment framework, we conclude that tap water awareness in the Netherlands shows ample room for improvement. Interestingly, most significant variations in awareness are generally not related to sociodemographic factors but rather apply to the four customer perspectives on drinking water that are based on people’s subjective views and preferences.