Shelton Insights

Our take on the ever-shifting landscape of energy and the environment – and the strategies you need to market your commitment to sustainability.

2016 will be the year of …

Happy new year everyone! I officially declared 2015 the year of the tipping point (see the post here), and I actually do think in a couple of years we’ll look back and think that was right. (Making predictions is tricky business ... it’s always a relief to look back...

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What do you stand for?

I’ve written posts about the financial and brand-building power of Purpose before. (If you want to learn more, check out Simon Sinek. He’s the Purpose guru and famous for his mantra: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”) I’ve quoted some powerful stats from books like Firms of Endearment, which compares purpose-driven companies like Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods and J&J, to Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” companies (like Kimberly-Clark and Kroger).

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Digital advertising to the rescue: Strategies for marketing low-interest products

At Shelton Group, we work with brands at the forefront of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability – which means we primarily work with brands in low-interest product categories, presenting a unique marketing challenge. After all, if consumers aren’t inherently interested in or searching for a particular type of product (because they don’t realize they have an efficiency or environmental problem to solve), how are you supposed to market to them?

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Are smart home enthusiasts into energy efficiency?

This year’s 2015 Energy Pulse study confirms several suspicions and busts a theory or two.

We learned that 27% of Americans could be categorized as Home Energy Efficiency Enthusiasts, and 13% of Americans are Home Technology Enthusiasts. We also learned that while home security has (historically) been the primary driver for smart home technology adoption, energy efficiency is now driving purchases. So there’s an interesting crossover between our two groups.

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The value proposition for recycling

Sunday, November 15, was America Recycles Day. It immediately reminded me of an opinion piece I read a few weeks back in The New York Times ("The Reign of Recycling") questioning the validity of recycling. Rebuttals were numerous and swift (read a few here and here),...

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We are more powerful together

This week I had the absolute pleasure of participating in a unique and fascinating event put on by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) called Residential Energy+. The premise behind the event was essentially, “Look, making our existing housing stock more energy efficient not only does wonderful things for the folks inside the homes, it can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are many disparate players trying to move the market in the right direction … what if we get them all in a room for a day and a half and see if we can work collectively to make it happen?”

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How patriotism could motivate Americans to be more energy efficient

Several years ago, back when we were still fighting a war in Iraq and we were all very tense about that, we tested some messaging around national security as a reason to make one’s home more energy efficient. It tested pretty well; not as well as saving money and increasing comfort, but pretty well. And, as you might imagine, it tested best with Americans who weren’t bought into climate change, but were bought into America.

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Under fire: What to do when your sustainability story is questioned

If you’ve eaten at Chipotle, you know their sustainability story. If you haven’t, take a tour of their website, and you’ll learn about how vegetables are grown in healthy soil, how they’ve removed GMOs from their menu, how they’ve taken a stand against growth hormones and antibiotics in milking cows, and how they’re allowing pigs to “root and roam” instead of being caged up.

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Focus group of one: Real-world experience trying to make a home more energy efficient

If you’ve seen someone from Shelton Group speak or you’ve read some of our research, you know our overarching point of view when it comes to energy efficiency and greener homes: Americans care about efficiency (but they’re motivated by comfort, health and resale value). They want better homes – and a better home is a more comfortable and beautiful home with monthly energy costs they feel in control of.

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Are your certifications qualified? The FTC issues warnings

At Shelton Group, we’ve long espoused the merits of third-party certifications – the ones that lend credence to green claims made on product labels and in advertising. They provide some legitimacy, and our research shows that consumers view them favorably – in fact, they can tip the balance when it comes to product purchases for about a quarter of the population.

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Smart home technology: friend or foe?

I’ve been doing a little premature pontificating that smart home technologies could be a threat to building product manufacturers. Based on some secondary data and some of our Energy Pulse 2014 data, I’ve hypothesized that if people believe they’ll save 10% on their energy bill with a smart thermostat (both Nest and Honeywell have issued white papers claiming that level of savings) and they can achieve that for $250, why would they spend $2,000 to add extra insulation or several thousand for an HVAC upgrade or new windows?

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The smart home is here (because retailers are going all in)

We’ve learned, through years of work with sustainable product manufacturers, that growing sales without good retail distribution can be a steep uphill battle. It’s always a bit of a “chicken or egg” game. Retailers want manufacturers to prove consumer demand for products before they’ll commit precious shelf space.

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