We need a bigger carrot and a bigger stick.

We need a bigger carrot and a bigger stick.

Here’s another sneak peak at our findings from Energy Pulse 2010, which will be available October 29.

We’ve already seen (and discussed here) that the low hanging fruit is officially picked. But what we’re also seeing are two distinct holdout groups with two distinct barriers to making their homes and their lives more energy efficient.

The first group has a financial barrier and the second has a perception barrier.

There is a significant group of Americans, primarily low to middle income, who want and need to be more energy efficient, but they can’t act because of financial constraints. They need a bigger carrot. To combat the financial hurdles, product manufacturers may need to consider how to offer low-interest or interest-free financing on more expensive energy efficient improvements to help clear the upfront cost barrier. Utility program managers may need to consider increasing the size of rebates to provide more powerful extrinsic motivation for the holdouts (who are largely motivated by rebate money). However, we recognize that this creates a catch-22 situation – bigger rebates also likely means fewer rebates. Marketers will need to communicate these financial benefits as a clear and compelling message – perhaps emphasizing that these offers are for a limited time, creating a sense of urgency.

Then there’s a group of Americans who say they don’t need to make energy efficient home improvements, don’t think they have a problem, aren’t concerned about their monthly bills, or don’t think conserving energy is a personal priority. In their minds, they have no unmet need for marketers to fill. Marketers must either create a need or recognize that this may be an audience that will never take action. They need a stick. The only thing that may make them take action is legislation or painful price increases. They will only act when they feel forced to.

What’s important to remember about all this is that the next several years in the energy efficiency marketing arena will look very different than the last few years. There will be new targets, new barriers, and new messaging to help keep forward progress in motion.  And, frankly, it will be harder than it has been.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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