The solar industry has found the most effective way to convince consumers to install panels on their homes is the decidedly low-tech and timeworn marketing strategy used by Tupperware.
Despite a decades-long push by environmentalists, government officials and sale reps to get Americans to buy into the renewable energy source, solar power still represents less than 1 percent of electricity generated in the United States, the NYT reported.
The potential for solar energy to fulfill their needs is undisputed in certain parts of the country. And yet, many consumers still view solar as an unrealistic, costly product designed for the wealthy or quixotic. Solar companies, which historically have been abysmal marketers, were largely to blame.
That’s beginning to change as solar companies increasingly turn to a marketing scheme popularized, and still used, by Tupperware: using the salesmanship of enthusiastic customers to sell the products to friends and neighbors.
The NYT article highlights how several solar companies and organizations have used party-plan programs to introduce potential customers to the idea of installing panels on their homes. The parties offer education and demonstrations, something a sales call often cannot. Plus, the main sale message is coming from trustworthy friends, family and neighbors, not a stranger.
Arizona-based non-profit marketing firm SmartPower has had surprising success and solar companies including SunWize Technologies and SolarCity also are running party-plan programs, the NYT reported.
Sungevity, another company that has used the party-plan program, isn’t mentioned in the article, but it’s worth noting here. Sungevity employs a host of strategies, including its iQuote system-a web-based tool that uses satellite imagery and software to calculate the cost of installing solar-to reach consumers. One of them was its Rooftop Revolution campaign, which brought an outfitted biodiesel ice-pop truck with solar panels into neighborhoods that already had a vocally supportive customer.