Monday, December 15, 2008

NPR covers Social Marketing & Saving Energy

This morning, NPR aired a story "Going Green: A Hard Sell for Consumers?"

The story talked about how social marketing can be used to get consumers to conserve energy.

You can listen to the story and read the transcript by going to:

Some excerpts:
People who promote energy efficiency are starting to realize that it may take more than high prices to get consumers to change their habits. The recent drop in gas prices drove home that realization.

Instead, they say they need something more fundamental to motivate people. So efficiency boosters are turning to social marketers to find out how to change energy consumption habits. Social marketing is the use of public media to get people to make the right choices for society.

One social marketing tactic, which works for anti-smoking campaigns, is fear of death. But that doesn't work with saving energy. People need stats. "People buy on emotion, and they justify with the facts," says Maria Vargas, a director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program.

Energy Star is an example. They use information from social marketers to craft their messages, in order to appeal to consumers' hearts. So Energy Star quantifies how much you can save in dollars and cents with an efficient refrigerator, and also tells consumers that each individual can, in fact, help protect the environment by using less energy.

Rozanne Weissman of the Alliance to Save Energy, an efficiency advocacy group, says people also want to feel that they're making an intelligent choice in addition to saving money. The Alliance's Drive $marter Challenge campaign offers such tips as inflating your tires properly and avoiding jack-rabbit starts to get people to save gas.

"People want to be smart about their choices," Weissman says. "They want to know more, and they want dollar signs attached to [driving] tips so they can make a determination to their own bottom line."

Social marketers say there are some things to avoid when you're trying to make people change their energy appetites. A big one is the idea of sacrifice. President Jimmy Carter tried that when he put on a sweater and told Americans to turn down the thermostat. It didn't work.

Here's an example from the Alliance to Save Energy - the commercial, produced by ad agency, DDB, uses humor to "break through the media clutter" in a "Shocking" creative way.

Judges and producers of "World's Greatest Commercials," (CBS-TV May 11, 2008, 9 PM), judged the Alliance ad as one of the top 10 commercials in the world. The Alliance was the only nonprofit organization in the top 10. "What happened is unusual for a TV PSA-especially one that doesn't have big bucks and big support behind it or a hotter topic," notes Alliance Communications and Marketing Director Rozanne Weissman. Voting to rank the top ten was then conducted on the USA Today and CBS web sites and announced on the program Saturday. This commercial placed #2!

source: ASE press release

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