Climate change concerns are driving increasing growth in the renewable energy industries. According to a 2011 projection by the (IEA) International Energy Agency, solar power generators may produce most of the world's electricity within 50 years, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewal industries are the future of sustainability
As the world becomes more concerned about climate change and resource shortage there is an increased growth and interest in renewable and sustainable products and services. Businesses are responding to this interest with an ever-growing range of sustainable, green and renewable offerings. But how do these sustainability-focused businesses ensure their longevity, profitability and success in this very new industry? Marketing in a fledgling industry like renewable energy is much more complex than marketing in an established industry. Below, Sustainable Marketing Services looks at some of the additional factors to consider when growing a sustainability-focused business.
1. Educate your customers
When a new industry develops, most people do not know about or understand it. If you are operating in a new industry, your potential customers are unlikely to realise they can benefit from the products and services you offer. You need to inform and educate your customers about the benefits of your industry – explain what you do and how it can help them. Only then can they assess your product or service against a competitor offering and make an informed decision to purchase.
2. Create brand confidence for faster sales
Customers have lower levels of confidence in new or unknown brands, products or services such as sustainable, green or renewable solutions. Because they know little about what they are buying, they are cautious and seek information from credible sources, taking longer to commit to a purchase. When customers are well educated and informed about a brand or offering, their decision process is much quicker, leading to a faster sale. With this in mind, marketing for renewable industries should be all about engagement and education.
3. Be greater than green!
'Green' is an effective brand differentiator, but it is not an automatic key to success. Customers seek more attributes than renewability and sustainability alone and many products positioned purely on green credentials have failed. Marketing your sustainable products or services will be most effective when targeted at innovator and early adopter segments. 'Early adopters' are those customers who are willing to purchase new products and services first and set trends for others to follow, often become the best brand promoters.
4. Be genuine for stronger competitive advantage
A business in the renewables sector has to contend with more than selling green products and services. There is a need to embed the renewal and sustainable message into core brand values and long-term business strategy. A global study of 99 companies conducted by A.T. Kearney found that, in 16 of the 18 industries, businesses in the renewable and sustainable space outperformed industry norms by an average of 15 per cent. Companies that choose to ignore sustainability will be left behind.
5. Be quantifiable and accurate
Being transparent is critical for businesses focused on renewable and sustainable products and services. According to an Australian Centre for Retail Studies report, 90 per cent of consumers want companies to prove claims that their products or services are good for the environment, finding the claims "... confusing, deceptive or implausible". Currently, consumers use company websites to read more about environmental claims and then use other parties to validate these.
Consumers are also revolting against brands perceived to be environmentally unfriendly or deceptive in their green claims. Sustainability claims must be accurate and verifiable to comply with the Trade Practices Act, which governs all forms of marketing.