How Marketing Strategies Can Help Eliminate Roadblocks to Climate Action

blog-skeptical-8.23.16What would you be willing to do to help fight climate change? Would you buy an electric car? Search for eco-friendly lodgings for your next vacation? Pay a small fee to offset the carbon footprint of the company you’re buying goods from?
 
If you’re like most Americans, your decisions are less a reflection of how much you care about climate change, and more about whether you’ve been given the right information and opportunities.

Better education could put more electric cars on the road

 
EVThis past June, sales of new electric vehicles (EVs) made up one percent of total new car sales in the U.S. While hailed as an important milestone, it’s not exactly making traditional automakers nervous. Why aren’t more people buying electric cars? Cost is no longer the barrier it once was, with at least six 2016 EV models priced under $30,000. Low gas prices don’t seem to be the reason either – as Navigant Research analyst Scott Shepard says, “The people who are going after that technology are going after it because it has a plug, not because it has significant cost savings.”
 
One big reason might be the way the vehicles are being sold. According to this study of the EV shopping experience, conducted by Sierra Club volunteers, dealers could be doing a much better job of explaining the benefits of EVs, as well as making them more available. Often, there were no EVs to be found on the lot, or if they were on site, they were “not prominently displayed” 42 percent of the time. At 14 percent of the dealerships, the customer was told that the EV wasn’t sufficiently charged for a test drive. And on 33 percent of the visits, the dealers failed to mention the tax credits and other incentives that would help make the vehicle more attractive.
 
Many potential EV buyers also suffer from “range anxiety” – the fear that their car’s battery will run out while they’re on the road and leave them stranded. It’s an understandable fear, but a new study says it’s exaggerated. EVs typically can go 70-100 miles between charges – an analysis by researchers at MIT found this to be plenty for most drivers. According to their data, 87 percent of the personal cars on the road could be replaced with EVs that are available right now. By 2020, as range capacity increases, that number could go as high as 98 percent. If consumers are made aware that their fears are largely unfounded, their reluctance to buy an EV may evaporate along with their apprehensions about range.
 
Consumers want to make climate-friendly choices

laptop-618174_640In a recent ecoAmerica poll of likely 2016 voters, respondents felt strongly that American businesses should take action on climate. But would those respondents take action themselves if given the choice? This study, by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, found that consumers will take the opportunity to reduce the climate impact of the products they purchase online – provided the retailer gives them adequate information.
 
No matter how good their intentions, the average consumer doesn’t have the time or ability to find out how carbon-intensive a given product or service is. The companies themselves, on the other hand, often do have access to this kind of data, and by making it available to their consumers, can strongly affect their buying decisions. When given the opportunity to either purchase a more energy-efficient product or buy carbon offsets to help the company reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of participants in the study chose the climate-friendly option. The percentage was even higher when the offset purchase was set as the default.
 
Making behavior change easy
 
Whether you’re trying to encourage more sustainable personal behavior or building broad support for clean energy, the way you present your information to your audience is key. To remove the barriers that keep people from listening and acting, here’s what we recommend:
 

  • Engage your audience on common values, like caring for others and being good citizens, and show how climate action supports those values
  • Explain that climate action doesn’t mean sacrifice – on the contrary, climate solutions offer multiple co-benefits, from tax credits, to good-paying jobs, to cleaner air and water
  • Make it clear how changing their behavior will make a tangible difference
  • Let them know that there are solutions available here and now (like electric cars and affordable wind and solar power) that can allow us to transition to a clean-energy economy

For more tips on how to inspire action on climate change, attend our free webinar tomorrow, August 24: 15 Steps to Create Effective Climate Communications. Register here today.
 
Image credits: EladeManu/flickr, Pixabay

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