Lab & Field consumer experimentation

During an experiment, a cause is simulated and its effect is measured. You can use both lab (type of experimentation in a well-controlled environment) and field (type of experimentation in real world) consumer experimentation in order to investigate how a situation will be affected by some interventions. Both types of experimentation were used in CIPTEC in order to identify the possibilities and limitations of a cost-effective behavioural intervention to increase people's willingness to use Public Transport. In this case, the behavioural intervention was called “social labelling”.

For more information regarding the application of the method in CIPTEC, see relevant CIPTEC Deliverable D4.3.

Motivate citizens, exploit Social Labelling!

Social labelling is a technique to influence people’s behaviour. It consists of making a statement about an individual’s personality, with the aim of eliciting from the individual a behavioural response that is congruent with the statement.

Social labelling intervention is related with one of the main global trends identified in CIPTEC, in particular “Sustainable lifestyle”, and it is also linked with the ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ concept.

Social entrepreneurship is not only about providing services of higher social value through a more social business model. It aims to provoke a framework and systemic change. In this sense, it is related with social labelling as both of them intend to re-brand Public Transport in a new way highlighting, among others, sustainability, fairness and environmental friendliness.

Social labelling is an innovative and rather cheap way to shift travellers towards Public Transport. Regardless of the modal share’s increase that it brings, it has inevitably a high rate of return.

By using relatively simple and low-cost interventions, you could increase the usage of Public Transport!

The CIPTEC’s consumer experimentation

In CIPTEC, we used social labelling as a tool to influence transport choices. We tested both in lab and field experiments whether labelling participants as environmentally concerned travellers (“green label”) would encourage them to choose Public Transport over their own car.

The primary goal of the field experiment was to test whether a small and relatively cheap intervention could increase actual Public Transport use.

During the experiment, passengers on three lines (experimental) received plastic travel card holders with a message printed on them that labelled them as environmentally conscious individuals. At the same time, passengers on three other lines (control) received card holders that had no message on them.

We tested whether the message on the card holder did increase Public Transport use in the period after the intervention.                    

What we found

  • Social labelling can be used to increase Public Transport use.
  • Social labelling with a ‘green label’ works to enhance attitude and willingness to pay for Public Transport.
  • In a period of about one month, we observed an increase of 0.83% in Public Transport use on experimental bus lines compared to control bus lines! Considering that this increase was realised simply by giving passengers a title, you can understand how social labelling is a powerful and cost-efficient method!