NEW ORLEANS — During the National Ethanol Conference (NEC), Matthew Willcox, executive director of the Institute of Decision Making, discussed how insights from behavioral science can be used by fuel marketers to affect consumer choice at the pump regarding ethanol use.

Mr. Willcox also released a report entitled, “Marketing Ethanol: how insights from behavior science can make ethanol a natural choice,” which was commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). In the report, Willcox makes several recommendations on how fuel marketers can develop strategic messages targeted at consumers that would assist them in promoting ethanol. Among the study’s recommendations are the following:

  • Rather than pitching products on the basis of benefits, ethanol marketers should also consider how to mitigate the feelings of potential losses that may arise when moving from the status quo choice.
  • Make the example of others adopting the behavior change you require visible to the people whose behavior you want to change. For ethanol, marketers might consider making messages about how many cars are powered by ethanol, how many miles are driven, or simply how many people have chosen ethanol-based fuels more prominent.
  • Framing benefits in the present is important. So to communicate the benefit that ethanol based fuels are cleaner, think about how that can be made visceral and immediate.

Robert White, RFA vice president of industry relations, said the report offered valuable insights into how ethanol marketers can use scientific theories to better hone their messages to consumers.

“It is vitally important that we start thinking outside the box as we consider how best to market ethanol to consumers,” White said. “The insights in this study offer valuable insights on how we can use behavioral science theory to promote ethanol use.”

To read the full report click here.