For anyone concerned with the optimal approaches to marketing cleantech - as well as approaches to avoid - a story which appeared yesterday on NPR is well worth passing along. First, a few highlights from the story.
- "Americans have this very strong streak of independence...From the founding documents of our nation to the heroes and the stories we tell, we really focus on the independent individual."
- "[W]hen people are asked to think about the greater good, it actually undermines their performance on a variety of mental and physical tasks "
- "People were more willing to support the policy when it's framed in the language of individual liberty."
- "But when they're asked to think about the greater good, this has a backfire affect, and it undermines their willingness to think about this policy supportively."
- "Basically, what the bottom line is, in America, when you make an appeal that goes against individual liberty, in the long run, almost always, you're going to lose."
In sum, the research discussed in the NPR story points strongly to a clean energy marketing approach in the United States that focuses on individual liberty and independence. For instance, companies marketing solar power could stress that it's a way for individuals and small businesses to produce their own power, to save money on their power bills, to be able to ride out a storm without losing power, to be independent from centralized authorities and/or power producers. In addition, cleantech marketers could stress that their technologies are ones that don't depend on anyone else, but can be purchased and installed by an individual, if they so desire. Sticking with the themes of liberty and independence, it probably also makes sense to emphasize that renewable energy can make us independent from countries which are not necessarily our friends. Finally, the research strongly implies that clean energy should not market itself as about some "greater good," but as enhancing the self interest of individuals, their families, and their businesses.