Buy. Sell. Educate.
WELS has initiated an online advertising campaign on one of the world’s largest marketplaces to educate and encourage consumers to purchase compliant product. Justin Felix reports.
Established in 2005, the WELS Scheme requires designated water-using products to be registered and to display, for the purposes of supply, labelling which shows the water efficiency of the product.
The Scheme also sets minimum efficiency and performance requirements. The Scheme’s objectives are to conserve water supplies by reducing water consumption; to provide information for purchasers of water-use and water-saving products; and to promote the adoption of more efficient water-use and water-saving technologies.
So what happens then, when consumers jump onto the likes of eBay and search for tapware for their latest kitchen or bathroom reno?
Well, as you can imagine, they’re presented with thousands of products shipped both within Australia and from overseas. Some are legitimate businesses who only sell compliant product, while many exist to simply make a quick buck, regardless of what or whom they sell to. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware that what they’re buying is non-compliant.
With all of this in mind, WELS saw an opportunity to provide further education and encourage consumers to look for and purchase compliant product when shopping online via advertisements on eBay.
The ads surfaced when consumers searched for keywords ‘taps’ and ‘showers’. Once search results appeared and they selected their product, three ads appeared: a banner ad, footer ad and a side column ad.
The ads featured the Water Rating Australian Government branding and the messaging was simple, yet effective: is the product legal for sale in Australia?
Ads were linked to a page that allowed them to check whether the product they considered buying was registered and water efficient. The web page also provided information about the WELS scheme.
“If you’re looking at an online marketplace such as eBay, there’s an opportunity for a lot of players internationally to sell their wares into the country,” says WELS acting director David Jongeneel.
“With that in mind we knew we had to increase consumer awareness and recommend consumers undertake registration checks to ensure what they were buying was compliant. If a consumer is buying a product, we want them to do their due diligence or the intention is that they do, to make sure that product is registered under the scheme.
“The other part of the equation is how these ads influence online plumbing product suppliers to become compliant. Because our program is 80% industry funded they’d certainly have a big interest in ensuring all players in the market are on a level playing field. As the regulator, that’s what we’re hell bent on creating as well,” David says.
As David explains, getting the plumbing industry on board is important. The risk to a plumber is if they are presented with a non-compliant product they have to make the call. Do you install the product or not. They themselves then have an opportunity to provide education to the consumer.
“If a product is not registered under our scheme the question is whether or not that product is WaterMarked. If a product is not WaterMarked, and we can’t necessarily tell from the eBay ads at the moment, then they can’t be WELS registered, as it is a prerequisite for WELS registration for a product to be WaterMark certified.”
Having the two schemes aligned for the advertising makes sense and David believes that similar ads focused on WaterMark are the next logical step.
“Our legislation covers point of sale, WaterMark covers point of installation, but a consumer won’t necessarily draw the link. That’s something we will need to deal with going forward.”
Results of the campaign will help WELS determine how it can improve the advertising going forward and provide scope as to how it can roll out similar campaigns to other products.
“The intention is to get maximum saturation and educate consumers as well as we possibly can. As far as I’m aware, we’re the only advertiser taking up this type of opportunity.”