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.

Turnoffs, turn-ons and wild expectations

Which green buzzwords irk your customers – and which set expectations you can’t meet? For those of us who work all day long in the sustainability space, it’s easy to forget that consumers don’t necessarily speak our language. Manufacturers and marketers throw around green jargon like “low-VOC” or “net zero” as if consumers will automatically understand what they mean and that the meaning is good.

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Utility customer loyalty – it’s the new imperative

Google, Comcast, ADT, SolarCity and other corporate giants have set their sights on utility customers. Soon they’ll be trying to lure them away with attractive new offers and product/service bundles, and when that happens, even the best J.D. Power scores are not going to keep them from jumping ship.

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Keep it simple

If you’re reading this post, you’re living in the extremely complex world of energy, conservation and/or sustainability. You’re working on Big, Complex Things all day long, and at some point you have to communicate with an intended audience about those things.

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Americans believe in climate change! Problem (NOT) solved.

Our soon-to-launch Eco Pulse study found that American opinion about climate change has shifted more strongly than ever before toward belief in the phenomenon and in its human causality: 62% agree or strongly agree with the statement, “Global warming, or climate change, is occurring and is primarily caused by human activity.”

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Optimal solutions

If you sat for the SAT, ACT or like tests, you might remember hearing during the instructions: “There may be more than one right answer to a question, but there is one answer that is ‘more correct’ than the others.” While it may have been frustrating then, I now understand and appreciate the need to find optimal solutions to problems.

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A tax on electric vehicles? Surely not!

Georgia, my home state, recently passed HB170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015. The bill, which was signed by Governor Nathan Deal in May, took effect on July 1, creating new sources of funding for road and bridge repairs. Georgia motorists are now paying a 26-cent-per-gallon excise tax at the pump. Like most states, Georgia’s transportation infrastructure is a hot mess.

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Will you lose your commercial customers to a better offer?

My quick answer is that we’re heading in that direction. And I’m not sure “lose them” is right; it’s more like “lose a significant portion of their business.” Let’s dig into some numbers. Our most recent B2B Pulse™ study polled business decision-makers across a variety of sectors, sizes (10+ employees) and job titles (facilities managers, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, purchasing managers, etc.).

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The new solar buyer may surprise you

As I noted last year, solar pricing has dropped dramatically. According to Triple Pundit, PV panel costs declined 20% in both 2011 and 2012, and dropped again in 2013. We’re living in a no-money-down, easy-access-to-solar world.

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Let’s talk about love

One of the ah-has from our soon-to-be-released 2015 Eco Pulse study is that, indeed, a company’s sustainability or social responsibility commitment IS a reason to love the brand. In fact, when we asked Americans, “Can you name a brand you love?” and then asked, “Why?” environmental and CSR reasons were almost as prevalent as core functionality or performance features.

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Turning importance into action

My favorite behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, likes to say, “We are all wonderful people in the future.” We’ve seen that bear out repeatedly in our research and actual campaign work – the percentage of people who say they’ll do a thing is ALWAYS significantly higher than the percentage who actually do that thing.

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Turning issues into opportunities – Sustainable Brands 2015

I’ve been at the annual Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego this week, and for the first time in years I didn’t actually speak … I just got to sit back and absorb. Though I’m walking away today with many thoughts and ideas related to leveraging sustainability to gain a market advantage, there’s one area I want to focus on: tackling issues head-on and turning them into a positive for your brand.

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Prius and the art of brand maintenance

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but it never occurred to me that “Prius” originates from the Latin meaning “to go before” (I took two years of Latin in high school). Apparently, Toyota named it such because they felt they were ahead of the environmental movement. Maybe they should change the name to “Postus” to symbolize how the brand has fallen behind.

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My not so green Millennial

We’ve all heard the stereotype: Millennials really care about the environment! And we’ve seen the studies like the one published by Morgan Stanley that finds Millennials are three times more likely to seek employment with a company because of its stance on social and/or governmental issues and twice as likely to invest in funds that target specific social or environmental outcomes.

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Looking for a CSR initiative? Think outside the box but inside the brand.

A few months ago, we wrote about this year’s CSR-related Super Bowl ads – and pointed out which ones did an excellent job of connecting their brands to causes that make sense with the brand. This approach is solid: our Eco Pulse study consistently reveals that 50% of Americans consider a company’s environmental reputation at some point in their purchase process, and about a third consider a company’s societal record, as well.

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Energy efficiency is king in the commercial built environment – but indoor air quality and water are gunning for the crown.

It’s no longer a matter of IF sustainability is important in corporate America – 82% of business decision makers say it is. Our new 2015 B2B Pulse study found significant increases in the number of companies using sustainability scorecards and incorporating sustainability criteria in their purchasing RFPs. In particular, energy savings/cost reductions are the number-one driver for undertaking sustainability initiatives.

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