How a sustainability drive helped Scottish Water build customer trust

Carefully chosen partnerships and a media blitz helped the company’s water fountain project divert 3.5 million plastic bottles from landfill.

Scottish Water MW Awards 2023
Source: Scottish Water

Scottish Water has been asking consumers to ‘top up from the tap’ with refillable water bottles since 2018. As much focused on brand as behaviour change, the ‘Your Water Your Life’ campaign sought to convince Scots that tap water was as good as – if not better than – water in plastic bottles.

To build its case for change, Scottish Water installed 80 ‘top-up taps’ in high footfall areas to help consumers fill their bottles on the go. Communities were consulted on the best locations for the taps, prompting more than 1,500 requests from interested parties via social media. Once selected, each new tap was added to a digital ‘tap map’, which attracted 46,000 visitors in just six months.

Working with agency Always Be Content, Scottish Water inked a partnership with Network Rail on a co-branded top-up tap, while eight pop-up taps were installed at Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Show. Scottish Water also joined forces with Police Scotland to place 20 pop-up taps on Glasgow’s COP26 conference campus in 2021.

Consumers were offered free refillable bottles in exchange for signing up for the company’s newsletter, with Scottish Water attracting 30,000 subscribers by summer 2022.

The campaign appeared in 92 articles across print media, as well as TV features on STV and BBC Scotland, delivering exposure to a potential audience of 25.7 million. Almost one in four people across Scotland used the taps to get their water fix – the equivalent of saving 3.5 million plastic bottles.

Crucially, the water company saw trust levels hit 79%, according to YouGov data, results which helped Scottish Water scoop the 2023 Marketing Week Award for Regulated Industries.