According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets in the country has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. And the number of U.S. households growing food at home or in a community garden has increased 200 percent from 2008 levels, according to the National Gardening Association.
Consumers’ purchasing decisions are being driven by their key values.
Independence. Resilience. Self-reliance. Local. Sustainable. These values are shifting consumer behavior and increasing demand for specific types of goods.
Why should utilities or solar providers care? Because we see these very same values come into play when we talk to consumers about solar.
Utilities and solar providers are positioned to play a critical role in delivering the benefits of solar that consumers crave. To win over consumers, you must appeal to their values and deliver a great customer experience.
For that, we can look to farmers markets for inspiration. Here are three lessons:
Make it easy to do business.
Many farmers’ market vendors have boosted their business by accepting mobile credit card payments, a convenience that makes it easier for customers to support more vendors and spend more with them.
Find the areas of your current customer experience that may present unnecessary obstacles – like confusing contract terms, overly technical language, clunky digital experiences – and simplify, simplify, simplify.
Remember that it’s all about the community.
Consumers are buying from local farmers because they feel good about supporting fellow community members.
Whether your program serves rooftop installations or community solar development, program design and marketing should emphasize the impact solar will have at the local level (for example, resiliency efforts or making solar more inclusive).
Show up with a friendly face.
There is so much meaning in the face-to-face interactions between local farmers and consumers at markets.
Don’t be the faceless utility or solar company. In fact, why not get directly involved in the burgeoning farmers market scene? Shake some hands, answer questions, hand out swag, and get to know prospective customers – many of whom are most likely already a values fit for solar programs or projects.