Marketing Solar to Women

By:  Glenna Wiseman, Principal, Identity3 Twitter LinkedIn

Feb_Webcast_inviteTomorrow, Wednesday, Feb 10 GRID Alternatives is tackling a timely subject in its webinar schedule, “Engaging women in the transition to clean energy.”

My participation in this webinar is part of a several year exploration of the importance of female demographic groups to solar sales success, and now the practical application of this knowledge for clients in my agency work.  Here we’ll take a quick look at this exploration.

GRID Alternatives webinar description: “Research shows that when it comes to putting solar on a family’s home, women are the primary decision makers. Join GRID Alternatives Wednesday, February 10 at 11am PT to learn from industry experts how women’s interests are driving solar marketing and technology, and what that means for the industry’s demographics.”

To my delight I will be joined on the panel by industry colleagues Deborah Knuckey, Head of Global Marketing for Enphase Energy and Kellyann Lamb, Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Sunrun. This is an opportunity for me and those dialing in to get to know Page Crahan, Co-founder of Clarus Power and Simbo Sojinrin, Country Program Manager of Solar Sister Nigeria.

Shining a Solar Marketing Light on WomenSeeding The Solar Industry Discussion

One of the first, if not the very first, articles in industry trades exploring marketing solar to women was a piece I published in Solar Power World magazine, September 2013. What Women Really Want From A Solar Sale introduced the role of the household Chief Purchasing Officer and the five buying stages she embarks upon for major purchases. The piece was based on an interview with the country’s leading authority on marketing to women, Marti Barletta. My thanks to Frank Andorka, then at SPW and the publication’s editorial team for breaking the ice on this industry discussion.

An Industry Groundbreaking Survey

Following this work came a series of industry articles and a groundbreaking survey. Raina Russo of #SolarChat and now Women4Solar, an advocacy and installation company in Florida, and I set out to gather input from women across the country. Were our hunches and the mounds of related survey data we had accumulated correct? Are women key to the home solar decision?

With 15,000 bloggers helping us get the word out our first ever industry survey polling women about their marketing preferences related to solar reached women in 34 states. “Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women” initial findings were presented at Solar Power International (SPI) in Chicago, 2013. Full results were released in 2014, with a follow up panel discussion at SPI 2014.

Identity3 Enphase Energy Dealer Presentation 4.2.14 Final survey oneBased on our research collaborated with many other research sources, the Chief Purchasing Officer or female in the household:

  • Initiates 80% of all home improvements
  • “Calls the shots at home” making final decisions on significant family purchases
  • In 80%+ of American households (HH’s) controls the family budget

Applicable to the solar decision:

  • In majority of HH’s she initiates the solar discussion
  • She predominantly does the solar research
  • Alone or in concert with her partner she makes the final decision on the solar contractor
  • Drives digital / social media conversations and related online recommendations

After presenting the findings of this survey through industry events, publications and installer training webinars, last year my firm moved into campaign development for clients.

Putting Marketing Solar to Women Data Insights into Action

AllEarth Renewables is a Vermont based US manufacturer of solar tracking equipment. Carolyn Cooke, head of sales and marketing, and I first met at Intersolar North America. Carolyn is an experienced consumer marketer, having worked over a decade in women’s sportswear before moving into the solar industry.

AER_headerOut of our initial conversation, we embarked on our first campaign, one focused within the industry. My firm, Identity3, collaborated with Aimee Tuck of Corbae Creative to create the AllEarth campaign, Say Hello, as part of their SPI appearance in 2015.

Carolyn and her team gave us the opportunity to apply our work around marketing solar to women in a dealer campaign now rolling nationally for their installer network.

The dealer materials put orchestrated campaign materials into the hands of dealers for use in their localities. The campaign elements are co-branded and directed at the consumer. The campaign provides creative pieces to activate for digital and online media, print advertising, postcards, lawn signs and door hangers.

The goals of the AllEarth dealer marketing campaign were:

  • Empower dealers with professionally developed, AllEarth brand consistent elements
  • Encourage dealers to market AllEarth Trackers
  • Ensure dealer logos and information can readily be added to the pieces and documents are formatted properly for printing sources
  • Help dealers to “gear up to #GrowSolar in 2016” #GrowSolar being the company adopted hashtag from our SPI campaign, which proved popular enough to perpetuate into 2016.

In concert with a major rebranding, AllEarth Renewables had developed key dealer and consumer end user personas. One of our first steps was to review the existing personas in the development of the creative brief.

While key personas related to a more boomer aged clientele, we choose to focus on one of the personas related to a younger demographic. The team decided to focus initially on younger demographics for the first dealer campaign.

Based on our agency research along with complimentary consumer research, the decision was made to focus on an Eco-Aware Mom and a Tech-Oriented Dad, using these “labels” to describe our personas for the campaign.  The Eco-Aware Mom was brought forth out of our research and recommendations.

“Women are in the driver’s seat for most decisions to go solar,” explains Carolyn Cook of AllEarth Renewables. “As a business, I cannot ignore the power she has to choose my product as the right solution. By speaking directly to her in our Eco-Aware Mom campaign, AllEarth can fine-tune our message to address what is meaningful to her and thus create successful marketing messaging for our installers regional use.”

AllEarth Eco Aware Mom Post Card Front Identity3.pngEco-Aware Mom Demographic Overview

  • Age: 25-50
  • Approximate Number in the US: 62 million women, 69 percent of moms
  • Buying Power: HH income: $85K-$200K, More than $1.45 trillion annual buying power
  • Characteristics:
    • Eco-Aware Moms are far more likely to believe they have a great deal of control over how healthy their home is compared to other mothers.
    • Events catering to Eco-Aware Moms are ripe for spreading the solar word.
  • The campaign needed to appeal to her:
    • Desire to do the right thing for the environment
    • Desire to do the right thing for their families including reducing budget expense
    • Desire to demonstrate eco leadership to children and community

AllEarth Renewables Dealer Campaign Post Card FrontTech-Oriented Dad Demographic Overview

  • Age: Born between 1961 and 1981, age 34 – 54
  • Approximate Number in US: 24 million
  • Home Ownership: Homeownership is an important goal for Gen Xers. The majority of Gen Xers own their homes.
  • Buying Power: Gen X has more spending power than any other generation, with 29 percent of estimated net worth dollars and 31 percent of total income dollars.
  • Characteristics:
    • Highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family oriented
    • Described as “savvy, skeptical and self-reliant”
    • Gen-Xers distrust authority and large institutions including corporations, religious institutions and the government.
  • The campaign needed to appeal to his:
    • Desire to make a smart investment
    • Technology suited to their investment and property needs
    • Made in USA technology

As a result of this campaign AllEarth dealers will have the opportunity to reach out to specific demographic groups, including women, with the solar value proposition suited to them. AllEarth will be tracking results with their dealers. We look forward to tackling the “boomer related age groups” moving forward, as they and particularly she represents significant consumer buying power.

A big thank you to Carolyn and her team at AllEarth for allowing me to share this information.

Join us for this important discussion from some of the leading marketers in the industry. Here again is the link to the GRID Alternatives webinar.


By | 2016-02-09T14:46:07-08:00 February 9th, 2016|0 Comments