Energy Efficiency vs. The FitBit

Posted by Energy Wire on May 28, 2015 at 2:29 PM

85% of homeowners want visual information, an in-depth dashboard of their energy consumption. 52% state that they would change their behavior from the ability to better understand and visualize the way they are powering their homes.

And for utilities, it was especially interesting to hear that 71% of homeowners state they would actually adjust their consumption during peak load times.*

Why does visualization engage customers on a different level? It provides education without you having to be the professor.

While customers don’t want to be educated on energy efficiency or how to run their homes, they’re still lacking a general understanding of how their homes are powered. (For example, over 60% of homeowners cannot explain what a kWh is. Yet – the industry is trying to sell products and programs that reduce just that. Something customers can’t even quantify.)

Think about other industries that have found success with this model of quantified self and visualization: Finance, Healthcare and Fitness.

  • Could people balance their checkbooks before mobile banking? Yes.
  • Could they hold a balanced diet before diet/meal tracking? Yes.
  • Could they go for a run or choose to take the stairs before wearing the FitBit? Of course.

So why is this visual, monitoring technology so necessary if we could do all of these things before?

  • The ability to set goals and know where you stand in meeting them.
  • The ability to engage with your own network around your progress and theirs.
  • The ability to share your successes.
  • The ability to see the benefit of even the smallest of steps. 

Perhaps the most important though… Instant gratification of making the hard choice, and the motivation to do it again.

Well, you can call consumers “lazy” but we prefer “evolved.” In order to meet your sales or participation goals, you measure your progress. How can we expect consumers to take action without the same benefit? Especially when it comes to energy consumption, something so remote in time and consequence?

Visualization helps answer the question, “Is it really worth it? Is this making an impact?” - If I take the stairs… Is that really going to help burn off the donut hole I ate this morning’? Is powering down my computer worth the 60 seconds it takes to power it back up? Will that LED bulb really make a difference? (It better for $20…)

There are still challenges though: You cannot invest in technology and simply expect customers to swoon. How do we get people to want and trust the technology you may or may not already provide?

We must provide relevant, value-based communications that will create desire to use such technology. We must make the purpose and motivation relatable to the lives of the customer – we need to empower them to make the harder and smarter choices in order for them to want the solution. 

Here’s an exercise: Look at FitBit’s brand manifesto. Read it and think about this through the lens of energy and powering homes vs. fitness. Scroll down and continue to see how the market leader in fitness tracking sells its product.

What can we apply to making energy matter?

KSV has more than a decade's experience communicating about energy efficiency programs and products. Maybe we can help you. Get in touch with Lauren Bell to talk about your current challenges and opportunities, and we'll work on some solutions.

*KSV National E.E. Consumer Research, February 2015. 

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / 802.862.8261

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, Customer Insight, utility communications, Utility Marketing, energy efficiency

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