Your customer says we're talking about energy efficiency ALL wrong.

Posted by Energy Wire on April 2, 2015 at 11:57 AM

As marketers, we’re constantly challenging ourselves to think differently (and more humanly) about energy efficiency – to remove ourselves from the daily grind of heating and cooling programs, product rebates and financing offers. How can we approach participation from a truly customer-centric perspective? How do we start a movement that inspires action across audiences? How do we get people to care about living an efficient life?

At KSV, we’re constantly hitting the road to learn what makes your customers tick. We talk to homeowners, small business owners and even large C & I decision makers about the barriers, motivators and overall benefits of energy efficiency.

The result? Unexpected insight into the consumer relationship with energy efficiency; insights that tell us we, as an industry, are talking about energy efficiency all wrong.

The good news? There’s a solution. We can get people to act, but we have to re-frame the energy efficiency message as we know it. We need to make this message not about energy, but about what your customer wants and needs.

In 2014, 69% of research* participants stated they found themselves adapting to inefficiencies in their homes and/or businesses rather than seeking solutions. We heard:

“You come into the house and you put a sweater on, and you just kind of leave it at that.” - Homeowner

“You have to educate someone about the inefficient areas so they pay attention to it. They just assume some costs are constant and part of their daily lives. People just get used to it. They think it’s outside of their realm of control.” – CEO, Global Software Company

People are so normalized to everyday inefficiencies in their homes and/or workplace that it is only when these inefficiencies cause a disruption in expectation that they are noticed.

This is a huge barrier – increasing participation/sales in programs and products that customers aren’t aware they even need. If their bills are consistent, that means they’re efficient… Right? How do we disrupt the customer expectation of what is “normal”?

In January, we surveyed 1,245 homeowners across the country to give us an even deeper understanding of the customer attitude and outlook for energy efficiency.

We heard loud and clear that people have a strong and positive outlook for energy efficiency. In fact, 75% expect significant impact from energy efficient products and services in as little as five years (for their home, the U.S. economy and the world). But only 18% reported participating in a utility E.E. program last year. And 64% of homeowners reported NOT making any E.E. improvements last year.

This disconnect tells us a lot, but one thing loud and clear: WE’RE STILL TALKING ABOUT ENERGY EFFICIENCY ALL WRONG.

Energy efficiency lags action intent and motivation. It’s complex, remote (in time and consequence) and intangible. To bridge the gap between awareness and action, we need to re-frame the energy efficiency message around the customer and their priorities.

We can’t ask people to do things and expect them to care. We have to position and communicate the benefits of our products and programs as such a good fit for them that they actually want the solutions you’re offering. Until they want it, they’re not going to invest time and resources into it.

If we can do this, we’ll give energy efficiency intent and we’ll disrupt the “normal.”

Reach out to Lauren Bell for more information on research findings and customer insights.

* “KSV Proprietary Research: Motivating Customers on Energy Efficiency.” 2014. 

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / lbell@ksvc.com / 802.862.8261

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

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