What do women want from a solar sale? This is not a trivial question. As competition increases in the residential solar market and the industry works to lower soft costs like customer acquisition, it’s becoming all the more important to better understand the market. Women, it turns out, are a key part of that market.
Why women? According to leading expert on marketing to women Marti Barletta, women initiate 80% of home improvement projects. These controllers of the family budgets are the CPOs, or Chief Purchasing Officers, of the home.
Shining a solar marketing light on women
That’s what led Identity, a woman-owned solar and sustainability communication firm, to conduct the national survey “Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women.” The survey targets American moms and other women homeowners to get a handle on their primary reasons for considering solar, as well as their solar marketing preferences.
Today, Identity announced that the results are in from this industry-first survey.
#SolarChat founder Raina Russo and solar marketing professional Glenna Wiseman, the survey’s creators, also announced that they have joined forces as partners in Identity3 and to further the Women4Solar initiative birthed out of this compelling data.
Russo and Wiseman worked with a cadre of solar industry professionals, prominent mom bloggers, and leading brand marketers to promote the survey over social media, garnering 270 responses from 34 states.
The 20 survey questions correspond to the 5 Stages of Buying that women go through, as outlined by Marti Barletta. Data were gathered according to these 5 stages to inform both marketing and sales in the solar industry.
What women want from solar
The survey found that women are the driving force behind the solar decision. A whopping 90% of the women surveyed said that they would make or participate in the decision to go solar in their home, and they also tend to be the ones to initiate the discussion about solar and do the research.
If anyone still needed proof that women are a significant part of the market, here it is.
However, women also indicated that the solar industry is not speaking their language or reaching out to them with techniques they will respond to. That means there’s a lot of room for improvement in this huge, largely untapped solar market.
A few other things that stand out about women solar customers:
Women care about solar savings and the environment. While a majority of women, like men, say that lowering their power bill is the most compelling benefit of solar, the environment comes in at a close second.
Women tend to think solar is still too expensive. While most Americans share this misconception, it’s especially important to get the message about plummeting solar costs to the CPOs of American households.
Women want the facts. They’re savvy about advertising and don’t appreciate a hard sell. Women want to understand how solar will help their families and lower their bills.
Women look to online information sources. As the digital divas driving the majority of social media, women need to be reached online. While most people aren’t thrilled to be interrupted by a knock on their door or a phone call, busy moms and other CPOs especially prefer online information and feedback.
Women are key for solar referrals. Women are more likely to trust companies that get good referrals. With 61% of women surveyed saying they know someone who has solar, and given women’s networking tendencies, solar companies should pay attention to women as a great source of referrals.
While women may differ from men in some respects as solar customers, the main takeaway is not the differences but the importance of women in the residential solar market. The industry needs to include women and address them directly.
Wiseman and Russo advise against emphasizing women’s role in the home or treating them differently. The point is to direct questions to the woman of the house, give her an opportunity to answer, and listen to what she says.
There are a couple great ways to learn more about this important solar market:
Purchase the full report: Solar industry marketers are encouraged to purchase the survey, which is available at http://identity3.com/shining-a-solar-marketing-light-on-women-survey/. A portion of the survey proceeds will go to the Heather Andrews Scholarship Fund at Solar Energy International (SEI) to further its mission of women’s solar training. The SEI Women’s Program provides in-person, technical workshops in a supportive learning atmosphere to bring more women into the renewable energy field.
Attend next week’s #SolarChat: To get further insights from the experts, join #SolarChat on April 9, 2014, which will feature a host of leading experts on marketing to women — including Marti Barletta of Trend Sight, Leah Segedie of Bookieboo LLC and Mamavation.com, Andrea Luecke of The Solar Foundation, Krystal Glass of The National Women’s Business Council, and Glenna Wiseman of Identity3 and Women4Solar. PV Solar Report will also be there. The panel will be moderated by Raina Russo, recently identified as one of the Top 10 Women of Solar.
Survey making news
The survey has been getting attention since initial results were featured at Solar Power International 2013 and in numerous publications. Solar Power World Magazine recognized the topic recognized as one of the 10 Trends That Shaped the Solar News In 2013. The November #SolarChat “Marketing Solar to Women” generated 6 million impressions, drawing 177 contributors into the #SolarChat Twitter “room” and topping the Twitter charts nationwide.
The survey was cited in the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2013: “A recent #Women4Solar survey found that women represent the largest block of residential solar purchasing decision makers, suggesting that women are not only paying attention to industry trends but are driving adoption rates.”
Rosana Francescato is the Communications Director for Sunible.com, an online portal that’s radically simplify the home solar buying experience. She also combines her passions for solar power and community as a community solar advocate. Rosana is on the board of Women and Cleantech and Sustainability and the steering committee of the Local Clean Energy Alliance. She has hands-on experience installing solar with GRID Alternatives, where she’s been the top individual fundraiser four years in a row. She’s excited about new ways for the 75% to participate in solar and has invested in several Mosaic projects. Follow Rosana @SolarRosana.