The Green Deal will be launched in just over a year, promising major business opportunities for the construction industry.
The government has also promised to ensure that the small and medium contractor will be included. Companies now need to prepare themselves to sell their products and services to the homeowner.
Continuing CIMCIG’s series of industry reports, the latest, “Taking Sustainability to the Consumer” pulls together industry research, suggesting an approach which will appeal to the consumer. Much of this can also be applied to all services, not just sustainability.
Timing is important, the report highlights that there are trigger points when people are more receptive to home improvements including upgrading energy efficiency; moving house, kitchen & bathroom upgrade, heating systems renewal, loft conversions or extensions, having children, children leaving home or retirement.
It is a matter of targeting them at one of these stages and then using effective communications in a language they understand and can relate to. There is a disconnect between the language of low-carbon and that of the consumer with a perception that green/eco/sustainable is for environmentalists. What people want is a normal house which is comfortable with low running costs. If they can help the environment and reduce waste then they will also feel good.
Before committing, people will need to see real examples of energy efficiency measures. It is most likely that the main influence will be referral, with people deciding to implement measures because they have seen their neighbour or the house down the road doing something. Suppliers need to promote and encourage this, providing plenty of ‘real life’ examples of projects. Projects also need to be described in general language and not the technical language of energy efficiency or construction.
A key concept of marketing is segmentation; breaking customers down into similar groups and then focusing on those representing the best opportunities. The report presents the categories developed by Defra so that installers can focus on the right groups and know what and how to communicate with them.
The CIMCIG report also presents case studies, one of which is about the Green Home Company and shows that you do not have to wait another year. This contractor has sourced its own funding and is already installing solar PV systems on homes at no charge to the homeowner. This year the Green Home Company expects to install 1400 systems, worth over £15 million in work.
Taking Sustainability to the Consumer can be downloaded from the CIMCIG website.
Chris Ashworth is author of the report and a member of the organising committee for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG). He is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy, which provides strategic marketing services to the construction industry.