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.