Comfort is in the eye of the beholder

Comfort is in the eye of the beholder

At Shelton Group, we believe that “comfort is king.” We think it’s important for energy-efficient home, product and program marketers to tap into deeper emotional drivers in their messaging. And we know that the idea of a “more comfortable home” has a stronger emotional pull than a home with “lower operating costs.”

For many years, our Energy Pulse study has asked, “If you had to pick one, which of these would you choose: Making my home more … energy efficient? Comfortable? Beautiful? Healthier/safer? Valuable?” “Making my home more comfortable” consistently beats all other motivations.

But communicators who go down the comfort path must be strong in their resolve and prepared for contradictory findings. When you test messaging, people almost always SAY that saving money is more important than comfort. Year after year, the message “Efficient homes have lower utility bills” beats “An efficient home allows you to set your thermostat to a more comfortable setting” in our Energy Pulse study. Resist the temptation to take this too well-worn path.

Quantitative survey results are usually slanted toward more cognitive (vs. emotional) responses. Respondents are in their “left brains” as they take surveys. They’re in a space of logic, sequence and analysis – not feelings. When you ask someone why they did (or would do) something, they’ll rarely give you an emotional reason. We like to think of ourselves as logical, rational decision makers. It’s also important to realize that the phrase “comfortable home” can bring to mind many different things – some of which have nothing to do with climate/temperature (the most common intended meaning):

  • A spacious home with high ceilings
  • A home with lots of natural light/big picture windows
  • A home with lots of storage and counter space
  • A home with an open floor plan

While some of these “comfortable” home features can actually make achieving energy efficiency standards more challenging, they also offer interesting opportunities for builders and a wide variety of energy-efficient product manufacturers to position their products as “comfortable” in new ways. The key is to be aware of the nuances and to be clear and specific regarding the comfort benefits you want to communicate.



Posted on

February 18, 2015

About the Author

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann started Shelton Group's research department in 2000 and paved the way for us to become the insights-grounded creative agency we are today. After 17 years leading our research team, she recently moved to New Orleans, handing down the title of Vice President of Research & Insights, but remains an integral part of that team as she continues to oversee client projects and proprietary studies.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.