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A power hungry generation : an investigation into Generation Y’s electricity usage, their reasons behind it and a review of behaviour change theories

posted on 28.02.2017, 00:37 by Smith, Samantha Kate
Curbing Australia’s electricity usage is a key challenge for society, both now and in years to come. With electricity an expensive, scarce and environmentally damaging commodity, targeted environmental social marketing campaigns are vital. Such campaigns are essential when it comes to influencing Generation Y - heavy users of electricity-reliant devices - to change their current usage behaviour and act in a more sustainable way. But are messages about electricity conservation getting through to this user group? This three phase DBA commences by employing regression analysis to identify the segment of the market that use the most electricity – Generation Y headed households. Phase 1 analysis reveals that Generation Ys living independently of their parents use more electricity than those Generation Ys living with their parents. Over 20% of this group view appliances and lights being left on as causing high energy usage or waste and are also more likely than the general population to blame the frequent use of large electrical appliances. Yet, they are the least likely group to turn off appliances when not in use (36%) or to choose energy efficient appliances (7%). Phase 2 research explores the relationship Generation Ys have with electricity and possible factors that could influence them to reduce usage. Qualitative research established a high reliance on electricity, the prominent role of Facebook in daily routines, the presence of stress when electricity is restricted, and the degree of effort associated with being environmentally friendly. Also established is the role of parents in curbing electricity usage in the home, the higher importance Generation Ys place on cost/monetary savings than on environmental benefits and their need to be directly impacted by the environmental issue in order to elicit a suitable response. Phase 3 is an extensive literature review of social-psychological theories, frameworks and models of relevance - guiding practitioners attempting to encourage electricity usage behaviour change and to develop interventions targeting Generation Y. The review overviews behaviour change theory, highlighting to social marketers the importance of defining the target behaviour and the target audience, and assessing the determinants of behaviour. The review then discusses the criteria for selecting from the models and the theories of behaviour and behaviour change, outlining how best to employ behaviour change frameworks and evaluate behaviour change programs. The result is a theoretical review and insight that contributes to social marketers’ understanding of, and approach to, behaviour change, and assists them in developing their positioning statements, crafting their campaign strategies and communicating their desired behaviours to Generation Y.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Steve Worthington

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Monash University. Faculty of Business and Economics. Department of Marketing


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Business and Economics