Challenge #25

How can we …

stimulate consumers to behave more sustainably?


This challenge is part of the project ‘Maakbaar’ where we stimulate social, ecological and economically sustainable design, inspired by nature. It is a project from BOS+, together with OVAM, Flanders DC, Aider Peru and Design Museum Gent, with the support of the Flemish and Belgian government.

Involved SDG's

#11 – Sustainable cities & communities

#12 – Responsible consumption & production

#13 – Climate action


  • Dutch
  • English

Problem description

Everybody is being influenced and steered in certain directions when it comes to our behavior. This is mainly done by classic marketing techniques from companies in a free market economy. This influencing and steering leads to behavior that benefits the company. Behavioral insights and nudging are among the techniques that are being used mainly by companies to do their marketing and advertising.

In any case this influenced behavior is directly opposite to sustainable behavior and conflicts with policies from the government related to mobility, safety, health, environment, circular economy, etc. Governments and other organisations are not aware enough of this issue and do not take the correct actions.

Join this project

Do you want to work on a challenging project in one of the courses you follow? Let us know and we’ll bring you in contact with the contact person for this challenge. If other students are already working on it we’ll bring you in contact as well.

students are working on this challenge

What has been done already?

In traditional design agencies they made a transition from pure product design to a wider service design where the designer is responsible for the whole ecosystem around the product and the lifetime of the product. Yet, they are still not taking into account the knowledge around behavioral insights and steering. There is still a big potential for taking into account the behavioral aspects in the design.

Meanwhile, a growing body of research is written on the principles of nudging, often in economics and psychology. Some designers do already use these principles in their (sustainable) designs. Some examples are painted footprints to garbage bins nudging better recycling or household appliances visualizing electricity use to nudge energy saving.

What are the next steps?

Applying the existing knowledge and insights about nudging on sustainable behaviour might spark interesting ideas for products and systems with an positive environmental effect. We should define and study which nudges may generate the biggest impact.

Expected outcome

Students are expected to define a specific pattern of behavior that they want to tackle, taking into account the sustainability impact and the feasibility. For this pattern, they formulate and develop one or more concept ideas that may ‘nudge’ more sustainable choices and/or behaviour of consumers or users. Through experiment and study, the real impact and change of their concepts should be documented.