Warm water consumption behaviour in Germany: A study on how German families perceive feedback from smart energy meters

Nadine Schindler

Student thesis: Master thesis


The fact that natural resources are diminishing and that climate change as well as environmental pollution have a negative effect on the current and upcoming generations makes environmental protection an exceedingly relevant field of study. The smart energy meter WaterGuide was identified as a highly interesting and innovative new product in the area of environmental protection because it has the potential to change consumer’s behaviour and habits. It provides real-time feedback about ones energy consumption while showering and is targeted at families with children. As the company wants to expand to the German market it was decided to research how German families with children perceive the device. More specifically, it is investigated how German families with children think about reducing their warm water consumption, whether the WaterGuide has a market potential in that target group, and how it should be marketed best. The chosen research approach includes quantitative and qualitative primary research. The quantitative research is carried out in the form of an online survey. Its objective is to assess the warm water consumption behaviour of German families with children and what motivates them to reduce it. The qualitative research consists of five semi-structured interviews with German families that tested the WaterGuide. The objective of the interviews is to identify how the WaterGuide is perceived and how it should be marketed in Germany. The findings from the online survey show that German families with children have a predominantly positive attitude towards warm water conservation and regard it as important. However, their intention to actually reduce consumption is only averagely strong. Also, their confidence in being able to do so is somewhat weak. Furthermore, the main motivation to actually reduce ones consumption is of financial nature only then followed by environmental concern. The findings from the interview show that the WaterGuide is perceived as a helpful device to raise awareness about ones consumption. It is found to be especially advantageous for families because the visualisation can also be understood by children. The device had positive effects on the motivation to reduce consumption and, in some cases, even lead to adjusted behaviour and a change in previous showering habits. The main conclusion drawn is that German families with children are a potentially profitable market for the WaterGuide. It is recommended that the visualisation of consumption and the awareness it therewith raises is communicated as the unique benefit the product provides.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages116