Taking a break from writing articles

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By , September 12, 2011 10:09 am

I love data.

I love being able to understand what makes people tick, and trying to understand the implications for how companies can market their products. Ipsos have a terrific strapline – Nobody’s Unpredictable – which I think captures this idea extremely well.

For the last year and a half, we have collaborated with Sustainable Business magazine in writing a monthly column to use some of the market intelligence we have collected with our Environmental Choices syndicated survey. All 14 articles and 1 conference presentation are available at this site – see the links on the right of this website.

The articles have forced me to think through some of the implications of the data we collected. There has also been some work I might not have got around to, such as the time-consuming car analysis I described in the February 2011 article, without the discipline that writing a monthly column demands. Thanks Tom Idle, editor of Sustainable Business magazine, for being such a pleasure to work with. Thanks also to all the many people who provided comments on early drafts of the articles.







July 2011: How much does the environment really matter to consumers?

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By , July 6, 2011 9:54 am

July 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.


Businesses executives, such as those working in the microgeneration sector, might well wonder how important consumers’ environmental concerns are in creating demand for their products. Market researchers need to do a better job at understanding and explaining what survey evidence tells us, given that different research approaches can produce quite different results. As the number of research methodologies grows, market research should be more evidence-based using a process of triangulation to understand how each approach provides complementary understanding, and to take a multi-disciplinary perspective.


“Why do your surveys understate how concerned people are about the environment?” asked Jonathon Porritt in his keynote speech to the 2007 Market Research Society conference[1]. “This leads businesses to see relatively little consumer demand for making their products ‘environmentally-friendly’”. He raises an important point, yet understanding human decision-making, and attributing causality, are tricky things to do.

Consider the issue of how much ‘concern about the environment’ is influencing English people to choose a microgeneration system. If you ask people directly, as was done in a 2008 BERR study, they will tend to say that environmental concerns are ‘not that important in choosing a system’[2] (page 127). As my good friend Jasper Garland told me following his experience of manning a renewables stand at the Suffolk Show, consumers just ask questions about money, not carbon. Yet, our Environmental Choices survey demonstrates[3] that it is people who are most concerned about climate change who are most likely to be interested in installing a specific microgeneration device. Using this comparative approach, we might then conclude that environmental concern is actually very important in driving microgeneration product choice.

It seems that different research approaches can produce quite different results. As the number of research methodologies grows, I would argue that market research should be more evidence-based, using a process of triangulation[4] to understand how each approach provides complementary understanding, and to take a multi-disciplinary perspective.

As a test, given Lord Stern’s urging that people should stop eating meat to protect the climate[5], I propose a study to measure how much people’s concern about the environment is influencing them to become vegetarian (Jonathon Porritt discusses the issue of eating less meat).  Market research teams would address this question using different methodologies, and comparing the intra-methodology and inter-methodology insights would provide more objective evidence regarding the information each approach provides.

One approach is DIRECTLY ASKING people about the factors which influence their decision-making. Using this approach, people will tend to concentrate on very conscious, practical and functional criteria relevant at the point of purchase rather than give due consideration to all influences.

With REVEALED PREFERENCE techniques it is possible to uncover more emotional and less conscious reasons for the way people act, by getting respondents to undertake tasks and then inferring what is driving their decisions. Yet can these techniques differentiate between the different types of role a factor might have (trigger, hygiene, differentiating), and how this might vary between different types of people?

CONSUMER JOURNEY studies follow the decision-making process of target respondents, but how much is it possible to collect the data relevant to what really influences them, and is there a danger of missing the wood for the trees?

A COMPARATIVE APPROACH is an approach which compares groups of individuals, and is closely associated with the experimental approach of the natural sciences. There are dangers of not including important casual factors within the analysis, of mistaking correlation for causality and not recognising the importance of individual actors.

Market research can benefit from broader discussions within the social sciences – such as between biographical history and the comparative historical approach championed by Jared Diamond[6]. Consider the following delightful example written by John DiNardo[7] (page 12; pdf):

“What does it mean to say that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow caused the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? …

One dark night, when people were in bed,

Mrs. O’ Leary lit a lantern in her shed,

The cow kicked it over, winked its eye, and said,

There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.

as to the “ultimate” cause of the fire, we might say the cause of the fire was Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. We could also say that Mrs. O’Leary (and not her cow) was the cause of the fire since her placing of the lantern in the barn had the predictable consequence of igniting a blaze that would engulf much of Chicago. More policy relevant perhaps, we could cite lax fire regulations as the cause: perhaps Mrs. O’Leary would have been more cautious had the placing of a lantern in one’s barn been illegal.”

One might expect that the analyst using a CONSUMER JOURNEY approach be more interested in Mrs. O’Leary (though probably not her cow), and an analyst using a COMPARATIVE approach would focus on fire regulations.

[1] Jonathon Porritt to headline MRS Golden Jubilee Conference, http://www.marketresearchworld.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=988&Itemid=76

“Chair of Programme Team Kevin McLean explains: “Sustainability is central to Research 2007’s focus on the people and concepts that will pave the way for the next half century.  Market and social research has a central role to play in identifying and responding to the issues of climate change and sustainability that will not only safeguard the future of our planet, but help businesses of all sizes overcome the challenges and make the most of the opportunities presented by environmental insight.”

[2] Page 127, ‘The growth potential for Microgeneration in England, Wales and Scotland’, (2008), Element Energy & TNS, Appendix 1: main appendix : Final Appendix for Microgeneration Steering Board, 02/06/2008


PDF – http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46421.pdf

[3] How climate change concern can motivate people to be interested in your offering, Market Intelligence article for Sustainable Business magazine, April 2010, http://low-carbon-marketing.com/april-2010-how-climate-change-concern-can-motivate-people-to-be-interested-in-your-offering.php/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulation_(social_science)

“Triangulation is a powerful technique that facilitates validation of data through cross verification from more than two sources. In particular, it refers to the application and combination of several research methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon.”

[5] ‘Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet’ The Times, October 27, 2009 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6891362.ece .

Jonathon Porritt discusses the case for eating less meat in the Foreword to the 2004 publication “The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat”, by Mark Gold, http://www.wessa.org.za/documents/meat_free_mondays/global_benefits_of_eating_less_meat.pdf

[6] Natural Experiments of History, Jared Diamond and James Robinson, 2010

[7] A Review of Freakonomcs, John DiNardo, December 10, 2005, Page 12  http://www.noapparentmotive.org/papers/DiNardo_on_Freakonomics.pdf



June 2011: Does the Zipcar model provide a blueprint for 21st-century businesses?

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By , June 13, 2011 10:22 am

June 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Zipcar has just had a successful IPO and is known particularly by Americans who are green, from the East Coast, younger men without children, and those on the highest incomes. It will be interesting to see how well Zipcar can broaden its appeal from this profile to other demographics, and how appealing the proposition will be outside of North America where public transport is often more available. A broader issue is whether Zipcar provides a useful blueprint for other businesses in providing a viable consumer proposition based on sharing, and supported by modern smart technology and creative financing.


In April 2011, the car share company Zipcar raised $174 million from a successful IPO, over twice the company’s original estimate of $75 million[1]. This was an expression of investor confidence for Zipcar’s goal of getting people to think about car sharing as an alternative to car rental and car ownership. As Zipcar puts it ‘car rental is so last century’[2].

That there is something new about Zipcar’s value proposition has been picked up by the Economist in an article called The business of sharing: What do you do when you are green, broke and connected? You share[3]’. It discusses an emerging business model, adopted by companies such as Netflix and Zipcar, based on consumers renting things, rather than buying things. This business model is supported by cutting-edge IT systems and ready access to capital[4].  To lower costs, the company recently announced the creation of Zipcar Vehicle Financing[5].

Currently, Zipcar’s services are mainly available in the US, though there is also some coverage in Canada and England. In our Environmental Choices survey we measured the awareness and usage of car share brands, and the study showed that in late 2008, Zipcar was recognised as a car share organisation by 13% of Americans, 11% of Canadians and 2% of English people[6]. The survey also indicated that around 1.5% of Americans had actually used Zipcar by that time; these being members, or presumably their family, friends and other passengers.

The Americans who are particularly likely to be aware of Zipcar are those living in a city centre, to be from the New York/New England area, and to be younger men without children. They are also somewhat more likely to vote Democrat, more likely to be well-educated and more likely to be Climate Citizens; the group most concerned about climate change. Indeed, in North America there already seems to be a car sharing ethic amongst green-minded people. In households of 2 adults or more, there are significantly fewer cars per person where the respondent is a Climate Citizen, compared to those where the respondent is Sceptic/Uninvolved about climate change.

Yet Americans aware of Zipcar are far from being broke. In contrast to the theme of the Economist article, they are also much more likely to have a household income in the highest bracket – in excess of $100,000 per year.

Within their IPO filing[7], Zipcar rightly draw attention to the risk that ‘the rate of adoption and our associated growth in our current markets may not be representative of rates of adoption or future growth in other markets’. America has a transport infrastructure geared to cars and Zipcar may be meeting an accessibility need amongst Americans which is not nearly so pressing in other countries. According to the Environmental Choices survey, just 2% of English people are not in moderate, 20-minute walking distance of some form of public transport – whereas the equivalent figures for Canadians and Americans are 16% and 36% respectively. In some parts of America, such as the Deep South, the majority of people are isolated from public transport in a way which is really not experienced by people living in England. This difference in accessibility is reflected in the public’s attitudes. Whereas 36% of English people strongly believe they ‘really need their own personal car’, this proportion rises to 46% amongst Americans and 54% amongst Canadians.

It will be interesting to see if Zipcar develops as a niche transport option, or whether it can broaden its appeal to other demographics, such as with families requiring car seats. It will also be interesting to see how well the Zipcar service works outside North America.

Yet the broader interest in what Zipcar is doing is whether it provides a blueprint for other 21st Century businesses. Can more companies develop compelling consumer propositions based on leasing resources, enabled by smart technology and creative financing? Maybe owning all the stuff we have is very last century? Maybe the modern way is to rent stuff when we want to use it? Maybe we will not feel so inclined to use a car when the charge is on an ongoing basis rather than mostly in the initial purchase?

[1] ‘Zipcar’s stock price zomms upwards after IPO’, April 14, 2011, Venture Beat


[2] Zipcar website http://www.zipcar.com/

[3] ‘The business of sharing: What do you do when you are green, broke and connected? You share.’, October 14, 2010, The Economist, http://www.economist.com/node/17249322?story_id=17249322&fsrc=rss

[4] ‘Press release: zipcar renews asset backed financing facility: continued relationship with credit agricole provides capital for domestic expansion’, May 11, 2011, Zipcar, http://zipcar.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=224

[5] ‘Zipcar Prices IPO at $18, Above Range, Debuts Thursday’, April 13, 2011, Gigaom,


[6] ‘3.f – Transport, cars and car-share organizations, Environmental Choices 2008’, Haddock Research,

[7] ZIPCAR, INC. FORM S-1, REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, June 1, 2010 http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1131457/000095013010001923/ds1.htm

May 2011: Take a consumer-centric view when pricing your microgeneration product

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By , May 10, 2011 9:28 pm

May 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.


Pricing is a crucial element of the marketing mix for microgeneration companies. When pricing their products, companies should try to understand the specific decision-making of their target customers. This decision-making will be different for different types of microgeneration system. This article was written with the commercialisation of the Ceres Power micro-CHP prototype in mind and using primary research data we have collected about it.


The commercialisation of a microgeneration product is characterised by a long, risky voyage of many steps and travel metaphors. To cross the ‘valley of death’, the company will require sound decision-making as to the best route, choice of travel-partners, and confidence with adverse investor conditions. Overall, a strategic road map will be needed to move the company from the land where they are ‘developing something they know how to build’ to ‘marketing something that people will want to buy’. At product launch, the company should have a very clear idea about how their microgeneration product could help their potential customers, using appropriate pricing and taking into account a dynamic market environment.

In 2008, BERR[1] published a valuable overview about the growth potential of microgeneration[2] to spur progress in this sector. Centrica has taken on this challenge and early in 2011, began recruiting for a Head of Microgeneration to help the company ‘develop a market leading business in Microgen’[3]. One of his[4] responsibilities will be to conduct research to determine the price-volume curves of a particular type of microgeneration device. This article is about suggesting additional ways of understanding how such products should be priced, likely complimentary to the pay-back-period, conjoint and accounting approaches which are sometimes used[5].

To help companies become more consumer-centric, a powerful approach is to understand ‘the consumer journey’. This is about understanding how members of their core target market go about selecting the specific type of product that the company plans to sell. I mentioned this approach in my March 2011 article with respect to pharmaceuticals and offsets[6], and as a much discussed approach in marketing circles, I would like to acknowledge some fellow travellers who have influenced me over the past week.

First is Eileen McCormack, marketing director of AstraZeneca Canada who, after a recent pharmaceutical conference[7], told me that mapping out the patient journey is the foundation for a good marketing strategy plan: understanding all the steps, the decision makers and the influencers on the buying decision means that you understand the market dynamics. Another is social media expert Michael Coulson[8] from Sequentia Environics, who described how they do very detailed ethnographic research amongst a small number of the key audience to understand what really makes them tick. With this in mind, let me outline a personal consumer journey for installing my first ground source heat pump[9] in Sussex, back in 2006.

Influenced by a Sunday lunch conversation with my sister-in-law, where she said that none of us actually did anything about climate change, I looked in earnest about how I could switch my house away from oil. Living in a village, I was one of the 14%[10] of English people with homes unconnected to mains gas. I developed a mind-map plan for this project and my main financial justification was to do with concern about tight energy supplies and oil-price shocks. It also took into account getting best value for money between different suppliers, the likely price direction of technology developments and working out the best way to pay for it. Once the system was installed, the most common question I got asked by neighbours was my estimated pay-back-period. It made me feel I had not done due diligence, yet in truth, pay-back-period had little to do with my financial reasoning for the system. Indeed, given what has happened to the price of oil since then, any estimate would likely have been inaccurate. According to a BERR survey[11], I am in the 26% of early-adopters who are unable to estimate the pay-back-period of their microgeneration product.

In a nutshell, when pricing their products, companies should try to understand the specific decision-making of their target customers. This will be different for different types of microgeneration system. It is about understanding how their customers would choose the ‘risk of purchase’ compared to the ‘risk of not-purchase’[12].  As psychologist Leora Swartzman said at the same conference, the notion of regret is a powerful marketing tool. Can you get target customers to consider the regret they may feel of not buying your microgeneration product?  The sooner they act, the sooner they start saving money and to be insulated against the risk of oil or gas price rises.

[1] Although BERR published the report, it has since been amalgamated with DEFRA into DECC. This report is now available on the BIS website, currently accessible at http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/energy/sources/sustainable/microgeneration/research/page38208.html

[2] ‘The growth potential for Microgeneration in England, Wales and Scotland’, (2008), Element Energy & TNS,


[3] The job specification for ‘Head of Microgeneration – Energy Technology and Innovation’ posted by British Gas in March 2011.

[4] The use of the masculine gender includes the feminine and is employed solely to facilitate reading.

[5] ‘The growth potential for Microgeneration in England, Wales and Scotland’, (2008), Element Energy & TNS,


[6] ‘Think about consumer pain when marketing offsets and electric cars’, Market Intelligence article for Sustainable Business Magazine, March 2011, http://low-carbon-marketing.com/march-2011-think-about-consumer-pain-when-marketing-offsets-and-electric-cars.php/

[7] In a panel discussion at the 2011 Canadian Pharma Market Research Conference, April 12/13 2011, Toronto, http://pharmamarketresearchconference.com/canada.html, the point which particularly interested me was when Eileen McCormack had found the ‘patient journey’ approach very useful when first starting a program of research for a product. When I later followed-up with her about this, she explained that “mapping out the patient journey is the foundation for a good marketing strategy plan: understanding all the steps, the decision makers and the influencers on the buying decision means that you understand the market dynamics”.

[8] Michael Coulson has been responsible for running the Globe and Mail ‘Catalyst’ community which I mentioned in my December 2010 article, which has recently won a number of industry awards – http://sequentiaenvironics.com/blog/464/sequentia-community-program-wins-3-golds-at-the-ace-awards .

[9] In 2005, it was estimated that there were 546 ground source heat pump systems installed in the UK; See ‘Potential for Microgeneration Study and Analysis, Final Report, 14th November 2005, slide 22, http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file27558.pdf

[10] ‘Climate change and the home’, Environmental Choices 2008, Haddock Research, slide 74,

[11] The Growth Potential of Microgeneration in England, Wales and Scotland, Appendix 4, Survey of Early Adopters, Page 1, 21st – 23rd January, 2008, TNS, http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46424.pdf

[12] One of the strategies that microgeneration companies should consider is how to get consumers to actively consider the risks of inaction. They need to get consumers to challenge ‘business as usual’. In line with the notion that you should ‘never waste a good crisis’ (see ‘Clinton: Never waste a good crisis’, 6 March 2009, Reuters, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/clinton-never-waste-a-good-crisis-1638844.html ) there is an argument that microgeneration companies should monitor the level of risk consumers feel about climate change, oil prices and other external factors which might impact their interest in microgeneration devices.

There is specific evidence from Environmental Choices that people who are more concerned about the risk of climate change are significantly more likely to be ‘an Enthusiast’ for a mCHP boiler (see ‘Green energy companies and micro-CHP’, Environmental Choices 2008, Haddock Research,

The product profile was based on the prototype being developed by Ceres Power.

In the survey, respondents were presented with the product profile of a mCHP boiler. In England, amongst a nationally representative sample of 650 owner-occupiers on mains gas, 17% were ‘Enthusiasts’ for this mCHP boiler as defined by finding the description of the mCHP boiler ‘very appealing’ and that they would be ‘very likely’ to install. Respondents were also asked how they felt we should deal with any risk associated with climate change. 38% of this group think that we should focus on making changes now, 43% think there should be a balance between making changes now and dealing with problems if and when they occur, and 20% think we should deal with problems if and when they occur, or did not have an opinion on the matter. Amongst those who think we should focus on making changes now, 25% are Enthusiasts for the mCHP boiler, significantly more than the proportion who are Enthusiasts in the other groups – 13% and 10% respectively.

Further discussion about how people’s perception of climate change risk aligns with their concern about climate change, and how Climate Citizens are more likely to be Enthusiasts for this microgeneration device has been covered in my January 2011 and April 2010 articles respectively.


April 2011: Does your low-carbon product need a different positioning in different markets?

By , April 5, 2011 9:39 pm

April 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Within the Environmental Choices study, we tested 6 different themes which are currently used in the marketing of ‘environmentally-friendly’ products. Whilst there are some significant demographic differences in the appeal of these different ideas, it is not closely related to people’s country of residence.  The preference profiles of Canadians, English people and Americans are pretty similar when it comes to which environmental branding ideas they find powerful, and which they do not.

These findings should give encouragement for companies developing low-carbon products that they will be able to develop a common positioning platform across international markets. Yet beware using the idea of ‘beautiful nature’ – in each of these 3 countries it tends to be a powerful idea only amongst those already very concerned about climate change.


For many British companies developing low-carbon products, commercial viability will only be achieved by being successful at a global scale. For these companies, a typical development route is to use the UK as a first-stage test market, and then roll-out into other promising countries. Yet, what guarantees are there that a positioning strategy developed for the UK market, by understanding British consumers, is going to be best suited to other countries? Could the company have been more strategic in testing-out international opinion, before the product was launched in the UK, to anticipate how well the product positioning would scale up to other markets? Companies also need to recognise that their UK marketing communications will go beyond the domestic market. Consumer Facebook recommendations will have a global reach.

In my December 2010 article, I wrote about how modern communications are making national boundaries less relevant to business and social affairs. Within it, I mentioned how we tested the power of 6 different environmental branding ideas, and how variation in appeal had little to do with nationality. Let me now describe these results in more detail, with an eye to how this kind of approach can help in the strategic marketing of low-carbon products.

As part of the Environmental Choices study, our objective was to test out the appeal of broad environmental themes currently used to market ‘green’ products, amongst nationally representative samples of Canadians, English and Americans. Based on a review of green advertising, we came up with these 6 ideas:

A.   Beautiful nature – doing “good for the environment” means helping to save things threatened by climate change. Please imagine ice caps, coral reefs, wildlife, mountain shots, waterfalls, beaches, birds and earth from space

B.   Positive human relationships – doing “good for the environment” means being part of the community and caring for future generations. Please imagine young idealistic people, mothers and children, fathers and sons, caring relationships, and children playing in clean water.

C.   Empowering technical low-carbon solutions – doing “good for the environment” means using technology and gadgets which do not hurt the environment. Please imagine wind turbines, solar power, running water, hydrogen fuel cells and walking/cycling

D.   Guilt-free luxury – doing “good for the environment” means doing things “the right way”. It is about paying extra (maybe a lot extra), and enjoying pleasure with a low-carbon footprint. As more low-carbon technologies become available, this should become more possible.

E.   Zen-like simplicity – doing “good for the environment” means having less “stuff”, and using great design. Imagine the simplicity and design of an iPOD. There is balance / harmony between man and nature.

F.   Anti-consumerism – doing “good for the environment” means doing less shopping and being less materialistic. It could be imagined with the simplicity of the “old days” and traditional values.

We used a labelled 5-point scale to measure how powerful they thought each of these ideas to be. Most people (95%) are engaged with at least one of these ideas (with a score of at least 3). We reworked the data to understand which concepts are scored best (or equal best) for each respondent. In this way, we can undertake robust comparisons between sub-groups; especially important for comparisons between countries where different cultural norms can apply. We excluded from this analysis those 5% of people not engaged with any idea.

Overall, the results showed that the 3 ideas which have the highest appeal are C. Empowering technical low-carbon solutions, B. Positive human relationships and A. Beautiful Nature. The 3 other ideas have much lower levels of appeal.

With the international data set, we then used the SPSS CHAID test to understand for which types of people each of these ideas most appealed. This model will always choose the predictor variable with the strongest interaction with the dependent variable; in this case defined as the ‘idea rated best/equal best’. It only identifies statistically significant differences.

The results imply that a common environmental positioning platform could be applied across the 3 markets. The highest rated ‘low-carbon technology’ idea particularly appeals to men, especially middle-aged/older men without children; the next highest rated ‘human relationships’ idea appeals more to women, especially younger women with children; and the ‘beautiful nature’ idea particularly appeals to Climate Citizens.

March 2011: Think about consumer pain when marketing offsets and electric cars

By , February 28, 2011 9:08 am

March 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.


This article has been prompted by the challenge facing the director of a carbon offsets company who asked me, when discussing a research proposal, “Why don’t people buy offsets?”. To address this kind of question, consumer companies can learn from the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical companies are focused on outcomes. This means that for any particular drug, they want to know what it will do; what pain, or disease, it will address. Understanding, defining and measuring the consumer experience are important elements of determining the overall benefit of these outcomes. This article describes how such an approach could help in the marketing of carbon offsets and electric cars.

As a secondary point, medicine provides a role model in how a discipline can evolve in response to scientific advances and practical experience.


When consumers buy a product, they want it to do a job – or as Theodore Levitt observed People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”[1] For companies providing low-carbon products, part of this job is to tackle the emotional pain[2] that consumers can feel in contributing to climate change in a specific way. This health metaphor is apt since pharmaceutical companies provide a role model for how this can be done.

In marketing a drug, a pharmaceutical company has a number of key tasks. They need to identify and test their new compound to see how it affects the human body, and define for what specific disease the drug would be used to treat. The pharmaceutical company would also identify the incidence of people suffering from this disorder and the effectiveness of their treatment as demonstrated by clinical trials. All this evidence is assessed by regulatory bodies, such as the FDA which works with a Target Product Profile[3] (pdf) for each new drug and indication. Particularly in the cancer[4] and neurological therapy areas, there are ongoing new classifications of diseases and evolving specialties which take into account medical advances and clinical practice.  A pertinent example is how GSK identified that their Parkinson’s Disease drug Requip was also effective as a treatment for ‘Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)’, a disorder suffered by an estimated 7 to 10% of  the general population in the US and Northern Europe[5]. Following approval for RLS in 2005[6], GSK have undertaken physician and patient education programs about this disease[7].

Now consider the challenge of selling carbon offsets to consumers. Much like a pharmaceutical company, we should define the exact type of consumer pain, how many suffer from it, how effective offsets are as a therapy for this specific condition, and understand the ‘consumer/patient journey[8] (pdf) to guide marketing activity. In the UK, there is widespread discussion about the environmental impacts of flying, and according to the TGI Green Values report[9], the emissions per capita from flying in GB is the highest of 20 countries measured. Could offsets be used to treat what we might metaphorically call ‘Flying Climate Syndrome, the conflicted feeling (aka cognitive dissonance) potentially suffered by people who both fly and are very concerned about climate change? From our Environmental Choices survey, such Climate Citizen[10] flyers[11] represent 15% of English adults. Yet, the therapy is not yet thought effective by many. Just 21% of Climate Citizen flyers think offsets are both a good idea and work well in practice – the great majority of Climate Citizen flyers are either ignorant, sceptical or ready-to-be-convinced about them[12]. As Edward Hanrahan, Executive Director of ClimateCare[13] commented, most voluntary carbon offsets are currently bought by businesses as a rational, cost-saving abatement measure with only a tiny proportion bought directly by consumers. If offsets become more targeted at consumers, it would be useful to explore just how painful Flying Climate Syndrome really is for Climate Citizen flyers, and how offsets might be included within their (retail) therapy options.

Auto companies selling electric cars are also wondering how to attract buyers and which markets to target. A recent Synovate study[14] study indicates that Canadians are more interested in electric cars than Americans are, and we can see why this might be. A relatively high proportion of Canadians are personally committed to tackling climate change, according to an international survey conducted by GlobeScan[15]. Our Environmental Choices survey shows that the cars driven by Canadians have, on average, lower-emissions than cars driven by Americans. In Canada, the average Greenhouse Gas Score[16] of cars driven by Climate Citizens is significantly better than those driven by Sceptics/Uninvolved (6.15 v 5.48) [17]. The environmental impact of tar sands development is actively debated[18], leading to tensions in Canadian society about Big Oil[19]. 46% of Canadians ‘very strongly’ believe they need a personal car[20]. Companies selling electric cars could target the 19% of Canadians who are ‘personalcar-needing Climate Citizens’ who potentially suffer from ‘Anti-Oil Drivers Climate Syndrome[21].

Whilst one should not take the analogy with healthcare too far, companies working in the low carbon sector can learn from how pharmaceuticals are marketed. Let’s also better understand how this can be done by establishing the specialty of ‘low carbon marketing’.

[1] A paper which describes this argument well is ‘What Customers Want from Your Products’, Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall, January 16, 2006, http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5170.html

[2] In thinking about ‘consumer pain’, I have been inspired by the book Neuromarketing (2007) by Patrick Renvoisé & Christopher Morin. They describe the four steps to sales success as being Step 1: Diagnose the Pain, Step 2: Differentiate Your Claims, Step 3: Demonstrate the Gain, Step 4: Deliver to the Old Brain.

[3] ‘Guidance for Industry and Review Staff: Target Product Profile – A Strategic Development Process Tool’, Draft Guidance, FDA, March 2007


[4] For a description of how cancer is a term which covers many different diseases, and the development of therapies, see ‘Oncology: The Disease, the Dynamics and the Difficulties of Global Marketing Research’, (2010), Synovate Healthcare, Jackie Ilacqua, http://www.ipsos.com/marketing/sites/www.ipsos.com.marketing/files/pdf/12-06-04_HC_Oncology_Disease_WP_v2.pdf

[5] ‘Restless Legs Syndrome, A Clinical Update, (November 2006), Chest, Charlene E. Gamaldo and Christopher J. Earley   http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/130/5/1596.long

[6] ‘Restless Leg Syndrome drug, REQUIP, approved by FDA’, May 7, 2005, Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/23995.php – for RLS, the drug is also marketed under the Adartel brand name. More information about this story may be found at ‘Also, see ‘Glaxosmithkline’s Marketing Strategy for Requip: A Case Study in Product Lifecycle Management’, ICMR,


[7] As an example of these education programs, GSK support this RLS website – www.restlesslegs.com

[8] ‘Patient journey’ studies are used by pharmaceutical companies to get a better understanding of patient needs. For published examples see ‘The Report on Pain’ January 10, 2011, commissioned by the Canadian Pain Coalition, with support from Pfizer Canada Inc., to explore the patient journey of Canadians living with chronic pain. – http://www.canadianpaincoalition.ca/index.php/en/about-us/media-room/2011/01/10/137 : Also,  ‘The Breast Cancer Journey’, (2007), Aequus Research, – http://www.aequusresearch.com/documents/Breast%20Cancer%20Journey.pdf

[9] ‘Green values; Consumers and branding; Global Marketing Insights from TGI’ (2007), page 7, http://www.wpp.com/WPP/Marketing/ReportsStudies/Greenvalues.htm

[10] Environmental Choices segmentation,

[11] Environmental Choices, EC1 3.e – Flying and telepresence

[12] Environmental Choices, EC1 3.g – Carbon offsets and business reputations – slide 84

[13] Conversation with Edward Hanrahan, Executive Director at ClimateCare / Environmental Markets, JPMorgan, February 3 2011

[14] ‘Synovate survey shows Canadian new car buyers more electric than American car buyers’, August 17 2010,


[15] ‘The impact of climate change on business: The rise of the green consumer`, (2008), Globescan, Fabián Echegaray, Lloyd Hetherington, Eugene Kritski, Yashwant Deshmukh, ESOMAR 2008 Congress paper, p.383, 384, 387.

[17] The survey data comes from ‘Environmental Choices, EC1 3.f – Transport, cars & car-sharing organizations’ – and information about the EPA Greenhouse Gas Scores may be found at ‘US EPA – Vehicle Environmental Scoring, Greenhouse Gas Score – MY 2008 & Earlier’, http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/GHG_Score_2008.pdf

[18] For example,‘CBC oil-sands doc needs to wade deeper’, January 27, 2011, John Doyle, Globe and Mail,


[19] ‘The Tensions in Canadian society over Big Oil and climate change’ Haddock Research, September 22, 2009,

[20] The equivalent figure amongst the English – ‘36% of English adults ‘very strongly’ believe they need a personal car’, ‘Environmental Choices, EC1 3.f – Transport, cars & car-sharing organizations’

[21] Many Canadians can make choices which can use the potential full fuel life-cycle benefits of electric cars given the amount of clean energy in the country. Canada is one of the top ten countries in the world with the cleanest energy supply –







February 2011: Do people who are concerned about climate change drive green cars?

By , January 25, 2011 8:59 pm

February 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Much of the marketing for new electric cars has been to do with their low-carbon credentials. Yet, what is the evidence that people’s level of concern about climate change has any impact on the overall car market? Our data shows that in North America, Climate Citizens are significantly more likely to use lower-emission cars than Sceptics/Uninvolved; yet this pattern was not observed in England. Could this be to do with the range of car types available, how people see car transport within their overall travel mix, the time lag between being concerned about climate change and changing the cars-on-the-road, and/or the environmental credentials of diesel?


The start of 2011 has marked some major milestones in the commercialisation of electric car technology. Rising fuel prices and government incentives are currently encouraging customers to consider having their next car run on electricity. Since the start of the year, the first three out of nine electric car models have become eligible for a grants of upto £5,000[1]. A similar level of tax credit is available for plug-in electric vehicles in the US[2], where the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are generating a number of very positive trade reviews. Amongst other awards, the Volt has just won the North American Car of the Year at the 2011 Detroit Motor Show, with the Leaf a runner-up[3].

Much of the marketing for these new electric cars has been to do with their low-carbon credentials. A current Nissan Leaf advert features a polar bear hugging the new Nissan Leaf owner[4]. Yet, what is the evidence that people’s level of environmental concern has any impact on the overall car market? Do ‘greener people’ currently drive ‘greener cars’?

We tested this idea on our Environmental Choices data for England, Canada and the USA using the null hypothesis that ‘there is no relationship between people’s concern about climate change and how ‘climate-friendly’ their car is’.

I was quite surprised by the result. The test showed that in North America, Climate Citizens are significantly more likely to use lower-emission cars than Sceptics/Uninvolved. This difference is especially pronounced in Canada (at over 99% confidence), and directionally significant in the US (90% confidence). Yet, in England the study showed no evidence that Climate Citizens use lower-emission cars than Sceptics/Uninvolveds.

It will be interesting to explore further what might be behind this. Comparing England with North America, is it to do with the range of car types available, how people see car transport within their overall travel mix, the time lag between being concerned about climate change and changing the cars-on-the-road, and/or the environmental credentials of diesel? To take the last point, around a quarter of English cars are run on diesel, a fuel little used in North America. Whilst diesel provides better tail-pipe emissions than equivalent petrol cars, it may be difficult to think of diesel as being ‘green’, especially when it generates 12% higher emissions per litre than petrol[5].

And how green will people really see electric cars in North America, the UK and elsewhere? Will more countries follow Norway’s advertising guidelines in saying that no car is really ‘green’[6]? Will the EPA take into account full fuel life-cycle estimates in generating Greenhouse Gas Scores for electric cars, and how would they do it[7]?

Here are some technical details of our analysis. The EPA[8] and the Department of Transport[9] provide information about the exact fuel-efficiency performance and greenhouse gas emissions of cars sold from the year 2000. For the North American data, we strictly matched the 2000 to 2008 vehicles by model-year, model-type, displacement and fuel-type. If possible, pre-2000 vehicles were matched just against the last three criteria, taking into account that this would not be possible for those models discontinued by the year 2000. We also did not make a match if the respondent information did not exactly tally with the available cars shown in the EPA data, or if the information was ambiguous, or if the EPA had not rated that vehicle. In all, we were able to identify Greenhouse Gas ratings for 2,232 (63.3%) of the 3,527 cars used in the households of the Canadian and American Environmental Choices respondents. We conducted the analysis described in this article on the 1,093 cars for which the respondent was mainly responsible.  For the UK data we took a similar approach, although, given the amount of variation in model types, we were a degree less strict in our matching criteria. Also, one assumption we did make to undertake the analysis was to take the CO2 rating for the manual transmission version of each car (an unimportant issue for the EPA data). In all we matched 1,168 (82.4%) of the 1,417 cars used in the English households. The analysis was conducted on the 596 cars for which the respondent was mainly responsible.

[1] ‘Electric car revolution revs up’, BIS, Department for Business Innovation & Skills, 14 Dec 2010 – http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2010/Dec/electric-car-revolution-revs-up-for-2011

[2] ‘Energy Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, IRS.GOV, April 2009, http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=206871,00.html

[3] ‘Chevy Volt wins car of the year; Ford Explorer takes top truck’, USA today, January 10, 2011,


[4] ‘Very cute Nissan Leaf polar bear TV ad’, September 11, 2010,


[5] This calculation is derived from calculating the relative CO2g/km ratios to combined fuel economy figures for diesel versus petrol in the Department of Transport car ratings found here – http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/downloads/. Comparable EPA data is shown here http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/GHG_Score_2008.pdf

[6] Norway says cars neither “green” nor “clean”, Reuters, September 6, 2007 http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL0671323420070906

[7] The EPA is currently exploring new vehicle labels to use with electric cars, and the drafts indicate that pure electric cars have zero greenhouse gas emissions – ‘Proposed Label Designs for a Range of Vehicle Technologies’(pdf), EPA, August 2010, http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/label/420f10049.pdf . Elsewhere, the EPA makes the point that an alternative way of calculating the greenhouse gas impact would include ‘full fuel lifecycle estimates, considering all steps in the creation and consumption of the vehicle fuel, from production and refining to distribution and final use’. Greenhouse Gas Score, EPA, retrieved January 11, 2011 – http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Aboutratings.do#aboutgreenhouse. In Europe, car emissions standards have a crucial role in determining the environmental impact of cars for legal obligations and taxation policies. The bottom-line issue is how well these emissions data accurately represent the relative climate change impact of different car types, and specifically electric car models.

[8] ‘Green Vehicle Guide’ EPA, http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Download.do . Notice that the calculation would be more complicated for vehicle models after 2008 as the Greenhouse Gas scoring system has changed. For 2000-2008 models see http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/GHG_Score_2008.pdf ; for 2009-2010 models see http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/GHG_Score_2009_2010.pdf ; for 2011 models  see http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/GHG_Score_2011.pdf

[9] Government data for UK cars – http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/downloads/

January 2011: When it comes to risk, businesses must be more open with their customers

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By , January 14, 2011 12:42 pm

January 2011, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

The notion of ‘managing risk’ is a powerful framework for decision-making. What really differentiates how actively people are engaged with climate change is not their awareness or belief in it, but their attitudes towards how the risks should be tackled. Businesses, and governments, are being encouraged to take more account of climate change risk. Maplecroft provides global non-financial risks information, and their analysis indicates that companies which are successful in implementing climate change innovations, tend to have better financial performance. Alex Bogusky argues that companies can better manage reputational risk by being more transparent with their customers.


The financial crisis of the last three years has made many of us rather more concerned about risk. We do not need to know the details of credit default swaps, the carry trade, or US sub-prime mortgages, to keep an eye on the reputations of things that might affect us – such as with the bank we choose to save with, the companies we invest in, and the property values in the area of the house we might choose to buy.

The world also faces many non-financial risks. In our Environmental Choices study amongst the general public from Canada, England and the USA, it is not awareness or belief in climate change which really differentiates how actively engaged people are about this issue, but their attitudes towards risk. If you believe that we should deal with any risk associated with climate change by focusing on changing the way we do things now, you are most likely a Climate Citizen. If you believe that there should be a balance between changing the way we do things now and dealing with climate change problems if and when they occur, you are probably a Mild Green. If you think that since we do not know (definitely) what is going to happen in the future we should mainly deal with any climate change problems if and when they occur, you are probably a Sceptic/Uninvolved.

Businesses are also being encouraged to consider the risks of climate change. The introduction to the 2007 CBI report ‘Climate change: everyone’s business’ makes this point well: “Are we sure that climate change exists? I am sorry, but that is not a question for us. The best question for the business community is whether we can be certain that climate change presents a substantial risk; a risk that will have a profound impact on society and the economy? To this the answer is clearly “yes”. And so, as with all substantial risks, it is vital to mitigate the danger.[1]


It is these specific risks which are prompting many large institutional investors, such as those represented by the PRI[2], to call for strong action on climate change – such as with a November 2010 press release prior to the Cancun summit (pdf[3]. These types of concerns are helping to create a growing demand for global non-financial risks intelligence. Investors and consumers can access information about which companies are acting well, and which are acting poorly, when it comes to acting responsibly about climate change.

Our Environmental Choices survey shows that General Electric is particularly well regarded by Americans and Canadians for their actions about climate change. General Electric is also rated highly by the Maplecroft Climate Innovation Index, which provides evidence that those companies which are more successful with implementing climate change innovations also tend to have better financial performance[4]. In contrast, according to our Environmental Choices survey, oil companies are the type of companies most poorly regarded for their actions about climate change, particularly amongst Canadians[5]. This implies that they are vulnerable to reputational and financial damage should accidents occur, such as happened to BP with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

From our Environmental Choices study, the companies most widely regarded positively for their actions on climate change, by the English, are Marks & Spencer (M&S) and the Co-Op. As regards disapproval on this issue, in addition to certain oil companies, some English respondents also mentioned specific car companies, supermarkets and airlines.

Companies also need to be aware of other non-financial risks. The Maplecroft Child Labour Index[6] describes how widespread the use of child labour is in countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.  As Nike has discovered, there is danger of long term reputational damage in not taking proper account of this issue.

How should companies such as BP and Nike manage their reputational risks? The ex-adman Alex Bogusky of the Fearless Revolution[7], argues that the detailed relevant information available online is changing consumer expectations. He believes that businesses must be much more open with their customers about the significant risks and challenges they face, and actively engage with consumers about how they should best be tackled.

[1] ‘Climate change: everyone’s business’, CBI, 2007 – http://climatechange.cbi.org.uk/reports/00051/

[2] Principles for Responsible Investment website – http://www.unpri.org/

[3] ‘259 Investors Representing $15 Trillion Call for International Action on Climate Change’, PRI et al, 16 November 2010, http://www.unpri.org/files/20101116_Europeinvestorstatement.pdf

[4] ‘Index of 350 biggest US companies reveals relationship between climate innovation and financial performance’, Maplecroft, 4 October 2010, http://maplecroft.com/about/news/cii.html

[5] ‘3.g – Carbon-offsetting and business reputations, Environmental Choices 2008’, Haddock Research,

[6] ‘Child labour most widespread in the key emerging economies – Climate change will push more children into work’, Maplecroft, 1 December 2010, http://www.maplecroft.com/about/news/child-labour-index.html

[7] ‘3 Minutes on Transparency’ Alex Bogusky, 2010,


December 2010: When distance is dead, it pays to consider global patterns first

By , December 27, 2010 11:57 pm

December 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Whilst the communications technologies of 150 years ago helped establish many modern nation states, current technologies are undermining their relevance to business and social affairs. For market intelligence to be useful to business in a world where ‘distance is dead’, it should avoid making single national characterizations, consider global patterns before looking at regional variations, and adopt a detective/problem-solving approach.

The 1860s were a time of tremendous nation-building and business opportunity, aided by the new communication technologies of the train and the telegraph. The Confederation of Canada was established in 1867, and British Columbia agreed to join on condition that the transcontinental railway be completed. Also in that year, the first 35,000 Texan cattle were brought by railroad to Chicago, a trade that was to expand enormously and help interconnect the American economy. Elsewhere, 1867 was the year that the first Reichstag was elected in a unifying Germany, and Enrico Cairoli lost his life trying to capture Rome as part of Garibaldi’s ultimately successful efforts to unify Italy. This period also saw the adoption of the telegraph as a way to administer nationwide affairs, introducing issues which challenge us today. In India, there were privacy concerns about sending messages by telegraph[1]; and the viral misinterpretations of the Ems Telegram[2], in 1870, led to a rapid escalation of tensions between France and Germany which overwhelmed traditional diplomacy.

Today, companies can create digital campaigns to reach potential consumers around the world, often with little concern for national boundaries. Whilst the communications technologies of 150 years ago helped establish many modern nation states, current technologies are now undermining their relevance to business and social affairs.

I have been reminded of the old and new ways of communicating whilst being part of an online Globe and Mail ‘Catalyst’ community, established to provide input on their redesign. This newspaper first covered a national audience shortly after Confederation, when paper editions were transported around Canada by train. Nowadays, the Globe and Mail’s paper and digital versions have broadly similar content, yet vastly different reach. Whilst the paper version is aimed at Canadians, with targeted efforts to attract specific demographics within Canada, the digital edition communicates with a global audience, in competition with other international media.  Increasingly I can imagine people, from right around the world, reading (and commenting on) their Globe and Mail, through the free[3] digital edition – perhaps using their iPads or PlayBooks whilst taking their morning coffee at Starbucks, in one of over 50 countries this coffeehouse is located.

What are the market intelligence needs of business when ‘distance is dead’[4]?  Or as a US-based digital advertising agency recently asked me: ‘What is your approach for extracting and developing global insights with regional references?

Here are ‘3 top tips’ using examples from our Environmental Choices survey, one of a number of international surveys relevant to the low-carbon sector, including the National Geographic Greendex Monitor[5] run by Globescan and the HSBC Climate Confidence Monitor[6].

The first tip is to avoid making single national characterizations - ‘What does the average American think about climate change?’ is really not a sensible question. In every country, some people will be actively concerned about climate change, as shown by the recent digital ‘350.org, 10-10-10’ campaign, which inspired events in 188 countries. There are also going to be those less concerned about climate change, and research should measure the diversity of opinion in society.

The next tip is to consider global patterns first. Take care to ensure that the data allows fair comparisons between countries, and use detailed profiling information (demographics, attitudes, brand-usage) collected on each respondent. Within Environmental Choices, we tested the power of 6 different environmental branding ideas[7], and the variation in appeal had little to do with nationality. Rather, there were substantial differences between what men and women find motivating, and other differences according to age, presence of children in the home, and lifestyle/interests.  Taking another example, internationally those most interested in making environmental improvements to their homes are Climate Citizens who are middle-aged men with families’[8]. Once global patterns are identified, consider noteworthy regional variations – English people particularly try to avoid using a dryer, Canadians are more likely to wash at low temperatures, and 36% of Americans are not in moderate walking distance of public transport, compared to 2% of the English[9].

The final tip is about adopting a detective approach. A McKinsey[10] study about the emerging global middle-class indicates that the relevance of global/local approaches varies greatly by product category. This implies that market intelligence should be accessible to further analysis, making it more actionable for the specific needs of each business plan.

[1] In India … ‘nor could the secrecy of the messages be guaranteed if the telegraph clerks saw profit in passing on information to interested parties other than the legitimate recipient’, p.2206, British Empire, Trevor Reese; from edition 80, The All-Red Routes, http://www.britishempire.co.uk/library/bemag.htm

[2] The publication, and mistranslations, of the Ems Telegram, which reported a conversation between King Wilhelm 1 of Prussia and the French Ambassador, Count Benedetti, on July 13, 1870, led to French declaring war on Prussia within a week (and the rest of what was becoming Germany, who supported Prussia); and where Benedetti’s own dispatches to Paris no longer mattered – see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ems_Dispatch

[3] It will be interesting to see how the Globe and Mail makes money in this new environment, and how much the digital edition threatens paper subscriptions. Given competitive pressures, the Globe and Mail currently believes that there is little prospect of charging for online digital content for the type of general news that they provide; and their goal is to maximize the numbers of readers. However, they recently launched Globe2Go , an ePaper version which is available offline, costing $20/month – (http://globe2go.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx). This seems to get a mixed reception from potential subscribers – see review and comments here – http://www.digitalhome.ca/2010/06/review-globe-and-mail’s-globe2go-iphone-app/

[4] I would like to acknowledge that the idea for the expression ‘Distance is Dead’ came from this paper – Distance is Dead, Rebecca West, presentation to AMA virtual conference of June 23, 2010, http://www.civi.com/civicom_marketing_research_downloads.html

[5] Greendex Survey of Sustainable Consumption, National Geographic http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/greendex/

[6] HSBC Climate Partnership, Climate Confidence Monitor 2009, http://www.hsbc.com/1/2/climateconfidencemonitor

[7] ‘3.h – The branding of climate change, Environmental Choices 2008’, Haddock Research,

[8] ‘3.c – Climate change and the home, Environmental Choices 2008’, Haddock Research,

[9] ‘3.f – Transport, cars and car-share organisations, Environmental Choices 2008’, Haddock Research,

[10] ‘Capturing the world’s emerging middle class’ McKinsey Quarterly, July 2010, David Court and Laxman Narasimhan,  https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Capturing_the_worlds_emerging_middle_class_2639

October 2010: Monitor the discussion points – and take account of them in your media plans

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By , December 27, 2010 11:43 pm

October 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

The role of market research is all about providing consumer perspectives to businesses in useful and reliable ways, since the view from the boardroom is almost inevitably different from that of their customers. What may seem consistent and reasonable to Al Gore, may not appear so to some of the public. For companies promoting low-carbon products, the key issue is to take a holistic view of how different types of people will view your communication messages. As a valuable addition to existing strategies, companies should monitor social media forums and take account of discussion points within their media plans.

A consumer perspective in essential for businesses developing media plans for their low-carbon products. The view from the boardroom is almost inevitably different from that of their customers. To set the scene, let me first discuss a couple of everyday examples.

Recently I visited a coffee shop in a nature park, where there was slow service, little food selection and no place to sit. Taking the company-viewpoint, our waitress apologised, saying that it was rarely like this, and there were never problems on weekdays. Yet there would be few customers mid-week to appreciate such high-quality service, and as a weekender, she did not give me confidence that I ever would.

Too often, company service statistics represent ‘how the company is doing’ rather than ‘measuring the customer experience’.  The role of market research is all about providing consumer perspectives to businesses in a useful, and reliable, way.

Consider train travel. Look out for information about the ‘the proportion of trains which are delayed’ next time you are waiting for a late-running train, on an increasing crowded platform, and think how you would rather know ‘the proportion of travellers who suffer delays, especially those who fit your travel profile’. This is quite a different thing. It could be that the train companies provide a very punctual service late at night, running near-empty trains, but struggle in busy times. Perhaps the delays are particularly affecting some customer segments – such as high-revenue commuters. And, unless the trains are reservation-only, for every delayed train, a higher proportion of people will actually be affected.

For media plans, the key issue is to take a holistic view of how different types of people will view your communication messages. If you align your media plan with a particular relevant opinion leader, it matters what they do in all public areas of their lives – as Tiger Woods has shown with sports sponsorship. If you advertise in a particular publication, it matters how engaged readers are with the editorial environment[1].

From our Environmental Choices study, we know that Al Gore is a dominant climate change opinion leader – especially amongst Americans where 14% spontaneously mentioned Al Gore and/or An Inconvenient Truth as being personal inspirational. Yet he is a controversial figure. When prompted, 39% of Americans indicated that Al Gore has been ‘effective in shaping their thoughts’ about climate change, as against 22% who thought him ‘wrong-thinking’ on this subject.  From Al Gore’s perspective, it would likely seem consistent and reasonable to be concerned about climate change, be a Democrat, invest in cleantech industries and attack fossil fuel interests. Yet, his climate change views are resisted by many Republicans, and some are suspicious of a conflict of interest about his investments. As one Environmental Choices respondent said about climate change “People like Al Gore make a big deal of it so they can line their pockets with money”.

The leading climate change opinion leaders in Canada and England are David Suzuki and David Attenborough respectively who, although without the same impact as Al Gore, do not greatly divide public opinion. Amongst Canadians, 41% think David Suzuki has been ‘effective in shaping their thoughts’ about climate change, as against 8% who think him ‘wrong-thinking’ on the subject; and amongst the English, the equivalent figures for David Attenborough are 42% and 2% respectively. Both these figures are presenters of natural history programmes shown on high-end national broadcasters – the CBC and BBC. This is no equivalent broadcasting option available in America, probably to the detriment of how climate change is communicated there.[2]

The BBC is a leading broadcaster of information about climate change amongst the English (29% indicating it ‘effective in shaping their thoughts’ on the subject; 3% think it ‘wrong-thinking’). The Guardian is the most influential ‘quality’ newspaper followed by the Times and Independent. Among Americans, the National Geographic magazine is influential (17% ‘effective’; 1% ‘wrong-thinking’).

Organizations now have access to consumer viewpoints as never before. People can now make comments, both positive and negative, posted directly onto company websites and through social media – such as with Al Gore’s Repower America Facebook group[3]. As a valuable addition to existing strategies, companies should monitor discussion points raised and take account of them within their media plans[4].

[1] This is quantitatively demonstrated in ‘Media placement versus advertising execution’, Edward C. Malthouse and Bobby J. Calder, International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 52 Issue 2 2010

[2] See Timothy Garton-Ash’s description of the advantage the BBC gives to British politics compared to American politics in ‘America needs new politics’, Globe and Mail, June 22, 2010 – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/america-needs-new-politics/article1647695/?cmpid=rss1

[3] See http://www.facebook.com/repoweramerica

[4] This is one of the conclusions of ‘Consumer-generated versus marketer-generated websites in consumer decision-making’, p.245,  Fred Bronner and Robert de Hoog, International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 52 Issue 2 2010

Aug/Sep 2010: Telepresence companies that employ ‘green positioning’ must do their market testing

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By , December 27, 2010 11:16 pm

August/September 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Some element of green positioning is ubiquitous for telepresence companies, and research shows that this is a real benefit for those business flyers who are very concerned about climate change. In the US, the 30% of business flyers who are Climate Citizens already tend to fly less, and tend to be more interested in telepresence.  Yet, telepresence companies also need to consider how to communicate with those less concerned about climate change, how to make their services meet specific business needs, and how to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

The use of telepresence as an alternative to business flying is one of the most active emerging areas of the low-carbon economy. It is also extremely competitive with manufacturers such as Avaya, Cisco/Tandberg, Lifesize, HP, Polycom, and Teliris each aiming to shape the market in their favour. Along with ‘improved productivity’ and ‘cost-savings’, a common theme in these companies’ marketing efforts is how use of their products helps ‘reduce carbon emissions’.

And it does appear that reducing carbon emissions is a compelling benefit for business travellers concerned about climate change. This is particularly evident in America where, according to our Environmental Choices study, the use and appeal of telepresence is relatively well developed[1]. The 30% of American business flyers who are most concerned about climate change, who we call Climate Citizens, already tend to fly less than other business travellers, and tend to be more interested in switching their flights to telepresence.

In the UK, companies mVision[2] and Arkadin are now prominent in their support for the WWF-UK’s campaign for businesses to reduce ‘1 in 5’ flights[3]. Arkadin’s next ‘work without travel Climate Care Day’[4] is October 29, 2010.

So, what is not to like about a green positioning for telepresence products?

Here are 3 issues that telecommunications companies should consider when developing their strategies.

First, do you want to develop a niche based on people’s concern about climate change when society is so divided on this issue? A niche strategy can be very powerful, but does this one make sense when the whole topic of climate change is annoying to those Sceptic/Uninvolved about climate change? Much of the success of a product depends on word-of-mouth buzz, but how much are people going to recommend a particular telepresence system based on this socially-sensitive positioning? This is especially important for telecommunication services where there are ‘network externality benefits’ of greater coverage; in other words, the more people use a particular technology, the more useful it becomes to each individual user.

Telepresence companies that do employ ‘green positioning’ should ensure they undertake communications market testing, taking particular account of the views of those Sceptics/Uninvolved about climate change. Our Environmental Choices study suggests that communication materials based on a cleantech story could well get broad-based support, in a way that polar bears or Al Gore would not.

Secondly, relying too much on a green positioning does not address the practical and specific needs that businessmen face. For what types of use should businessmen apply telepresence? How can businesses apply telepresence to generate sales? These are very important issues as companies typically live or die by their ability to generate new business. The sales value of ‘face-to-face’ contact is promoted by both FlyBe[5] and ‘Deals are made over dinner, not emailBritish Airways[6]. Whilst the underlying point the airlines make looks valid, the idea that only in-person contact is ‘face-to-face’, with the FlyBe advert showing a faceless person, looks rather strange to people who have experienced telepresence – and will likely look quite old-fashioned to the iPhone 4 generation.

Thirdly, how does a green positioning differentiate your telepresence system from any of the many others available? Perhaps the category green benefits of telepresence would be better represented by a collaborative organisation like the Electrification Coalition, of which Cisco is a member[7], whilst individual telepresence companies work on building unique, powerful brand propositions.

Findings from a recent study from Hinge Marketing[8], about high-growth companies in the professional services sector, could usefully be applied to telecommunications companies. These companies should consider adapting their telecommunications systems to the specific needs of a niche target market, with a well-differentiated proposition, and set of tools, for this niche. They should target particular clients with highly relevant sales messages, and use regular research to ensure that they are immersed in the needs of their customers. They should think about how marketing partnerships can help them quickly achieve significant brand equity within their target niche.

As example potential niches for telecommunications providers, I’ll be interested in seeing which provider becomes dominant in getting doctors to collaborate internationally; and, which provider becomes dominant in enabling business people to sell their B2B services remotely; and, writing as a market researcher, which provider becomes dominant in getting qualitative researchers to stop travelling the world to conduct group discussions.


Whilst the responsibility for this article rests with me, I would like to acknowledge the helpful discussions I had on this subject with Don Bray and Anneke Hohl of AltaTerra Research whilst preparing a webinar about ‘Expanding the Use of Telepresence’, run in Q4 2009 – available at https://altaterra.site-ym.com/store/view_product.asp?id=405624

[1] ‘Survey finds that over 35% of ‘American business flights’ are threatened by telepresence’, Haddock Research, May 29, 2009,

[2] Mvision website, http://www.mvision.co.uk/go-green/

[3] WWF-UK ‘Join the 1 in 5 challenge’, http://www.wwf.org.uk/how_you_can_help/get_your_business_involved/one_in_five_challenge/

[4] Climate Care Day, a working day without travel, http://www.climatecareday.com/

[5] FlyBe, Why Conference Calls Don’t Work, http://www.flybe.com/business/

[6] British Airways, Be there face-to-face, http://businessconnect.ba.com/

[7] Electrification Coalition, Coalition Members, http://www.electrificationcoalition.org/coalition-members.php

[8] High Growth Strategies for Professional Services Firms, Hinge Marketing – report available for free download (no registration required) at http://www.hingemarketing.com/highgrowth/ & on-demand webinar available at http://www.hingemarketing.com/library/article/high_growth_strategies_for_professional_services_firms_video/

July 2010: Anticipate resistance to your low-carbon initiative from ‘critical older men’

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By , December 27, 2010 11:06 pm

July 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Internationally, those who oppose government support for green initiatives tend to be older men. The similarity of this pattern between countries suggests that this goes beyond a national, cultural phenomenon – and one hypothesis is that it is to do with the more anti-social values of older men. For cleantech businesses, it is important to understand this demographic since investment risk in cleantech is so closely tied to the political risk of whether specific government green policies get implemented.

‘Why are virtually all climate “sceptics” men?’, was the question posed in a recent article[1] by Richard Black, environment correspondent for the BBC. As part of his discussion he quoted polling evidence from a study produced jointly by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication[2], which categorised Americans into six groups according to how they felt about climate change; from “Alarmed” through to “Dismissive” – and amongst the Dismissive, almost two-thirds were men (63%). These men are profiled as being:

‘More likely than average to be high income, well-educated, white men… much more likely to be very conservative Republicans… strongly endorse individualistic values, opposing any form of government intervention, anti-egalitarian, and almost universally prefer economic growth over environmental protection …”

Using a similar approach, our Environmental Choices data strongly supports these findings, and on an international basis.  Within the survey we asked a number of questions about how much people agreed with government initiatives to support a green economy – to do with investment, regulation and taxation. Using cluster analysis, we categorised people into six groups according to how supportive they were of these various measures; from “Supporters” (who supported all these types of green measure) through to “Opposers” (who opposed them all). The study was done in Canada and the USA as well as England; and it was quite remarkable how similar the results were for each country. In each country, both the Supporters and Opposers were predominately male, with the four ‘middle groups’ being predominately female. Supporters are more likely to be younger men (aged 18-34), whilst Opposers are more likely to be older men, especially aged 55+. In each country, those men profiled as Opposers would very likely be Conservative/Republican voters, or not politically aligned. Opposers represent 10% of both Canadians and English adults, and 15% of Americans.

Richard Black concludes his article pondering why men are more likely to be dismissive of climate change.  It is beyond the scope of our research to provide a robust answer to his question, but the great similarity of the results between countries suggests that this goes beyond a national, cultural phenomenon. One hypothesis is that these views are significantly affected by people’s values. In each country, people’s values do not differ greatly according to some demographics, such as in which region people live, but they do vary greatly by ‘age’ and ‘gender’. In each country, younger adults tend to be more concerned about status-based materialistic values; older women tend to be more content and hospitable whilst middle-aged and older men are more likely to be inhospitable.  Perhaps the inhospitable, unsociable values of older men contribute to their resistance to government green initiatives?

I confess, I had an image of ‘grumpy old men’ when we did this analysis; yet resisted this pejorative term since it would distract from a proper understanding of this demographic. It would be interesting to know what drives older men’s critical thinking; and, as the population gets greyer, whether these attitudes are to do with life-stage, or more a one-off characteristic of the Baby Boomer, and pre-Baby Boomer, generations.

But why does this matter to businesses working in the sustainability sector?

It matters because governments need public support to be able to implement suitable green policies, and these policies are critical for cleantech businesses to thrive.  Investment risk in cleantech is closely tied to the political risk (p8 & 9, pdf)[3] of whether specific government green policies will be implemented. Which of the various climate change and energy bills, if any, will be adopted by the US Senate? How much will the British government support the energy infrastructure required to enable the electric car to be a success?

As Peter McManners described in a column for Sustainable Business[4], the government’s introduction of feed-in tariffs has meant that PV companies are now struggling to cope with demand. Companies such as SolarCentury are actively incorporating information about feed-in tariffs within their marketing[5].

Certainly, each government initiative to support the low-carbon economy should be critically evaluated. However, we should also be aware that there are some people who would be resistant to any type of government support for the green economy. If there is a specific government policy which will support your cleantech business, don’t be surprised if you get some resistance from some critical older men.

[1] COP15: Climate ‘scepticism’ and questions about sex, BBC, Richard Black, 15 December 2009, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/12/cop15_questions_about_sex.html

[2] Global Warming’s Six Americas; An Audience Segmentation Analysis, By Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, Andrew Light; May 19, 2009 – http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/05/6americas.html

[3] See, for example, Black Rock New Energy Investment Trust plc, Half Yearly Financial Report, 30 April 2009 , pages 8 & 9 – http://www.blackrock.co.uk/content/groups/uksite/documents/literature/blk047520.pdf

[4] Thinking ahead will help an industry to survive and thrive, Peter McManners, Sustainable Business, May 2010

[5] http://www.solarcentury.co.uk/News/Solarcentury-News/Farmers-earn-extra-income-with-solar-buildings

June 2010: Businesses must think about the unmet needs of their customers

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By , December 27, 2010 11:01 pm

June 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

When governmental bodies try and get people to reduce their environmental impact, they sometimes talk about an ‘attitude-behaviour gap’. Instead, why not consider it as an ‘unmet need’, where consumers ‘low-carbon desires’ are not met by current ‘high-carbon behaviour’. This should move some of the responsibility away from ‘the consumer’, and onto businesses to think creatively about providing compelling low-carbon products and services.

As the CBI Climate Change board states[1], ‘government, business and consumers all have a role to play in making the shift to a low-carbon economy’. Yet, if you work in business, what specifically are you expected to do to fulfil this role? A lot seems to depend on your perspective.

One common frame is to see climate change as an environmental challenge. Based on social marketing principles, this is about governments trying to get the public to change both their attitudes and behaviour in response to climate change. Drawing on experience of public health campaigns, it’s about getting people to do the things they ought to do. A good example is the UK’s ‘Are You Doing Your Bit?’ campaign, which was designed to encourage people ‘not to leave their TV on standby’, ‘walk instead of taking a car’, ‘use public transport not car’ (pages 51, 52)[2], and so on. This is the language of DEFRA, NESTA and the Department of Transport. A core concept is the idea of tackling the ‘attitude-behaviour gap’, which, according to the Department of Transport (accessed on May 17, 2010 and under review following the formation of a new government) ‘could be described as one of the greatest challenges facing the public climate change agenda.’[3] Apart doing its bit as a ‘good citizen’, the role for business seems somewhat limited within this perspective.

Yet there is an alternative. This is the frame which sees climate change as a cleantech challenge, and gives businesses a much greater role in addressing climate change. It is clear from our Environmental Choices survey data that around a third of people are deeply concerned about climate change (we have called them Climate Citizens) who would be in a latent state of tension between any personal high-carbon behaviours not being matched by low-carbon desires. As commercial market researchers, we don’t call this call an ‘attitudinal-behaviour gap’, we call this ‘unmet needs’. It is the role of businesses to identify very specific market opportunities where their technologies can satisfy these unmet needs, profitably. It is about understanding the desires of consumers and enabling a shift to lower-carbon lifestyles because they want to. This is the language of the Carbon Trust[4] as they support companies such as Ceres Power, Buccleuch BioEnergy and Oxsensis – and are looking to help the UK become a leader in the $4 trillion[5] global cleantech market.

For businesses, these ‘unmet needs caused by climate change’ should be integrated within their existing business and marketing plans. Laundry products should still be aimed at mums, micro-generation products should be aimed at dads and telepresence alternatives to flying should be aimed at business flyers.

When it comes to travel, our Environmental Choices data shows that people who are unconcerned about climate change (we have called them Sceptics & Uninvolved) tend to be quite car-orientated, and their cars tend to have relatively poor fuel-efficiency. In contrast, Climate Citizens are more likely to share their cars, use bicycles and public transport. Instead of using an ‘attitude-behaviour gap’ approach, perhaps, in collaboration with the Carbon Trust, the Department of Transport could support cleantech travel options that would appeal to Climate Citizens as early adopters (as well as use regulation to prohibit the worst existing technologies)? This could be to do with the development and marketing of electric cars and required infrastructure, or more simple business solutions to meet people’s low-carbon travel needs.

And around 15% of English people are Climate Citizens who fly at least once a year. These are people in a state of conflicted feelings – split between their views on climate change, and their current flying behaviour.  They are also relatively likely to have money to spend, since ‘frequency of flying’ is strongly correlated with income. How can telepresence be developed as an acceptable alternative to at least some flights that these people take? As of late 2008, telepresence had become more widely used in the USA than in England, and our data shows that the appeal and usage of telepresence is greater, and business flying is less, amongst Climate Citizens than other groups.

Both environmental and cleantech perspectives can have value – it rather depends what any particular initiative is trying to achieve. Yet overall, what we are arguing for is a greater cleantech focus, which should move some of the responsibility away from ‘the consumer’, and onto businesses to think creatively about providing compelling low-carbon products and services.  Let’s think less of the ‘attitude-behaviour gap’, and more about understanding these ‘unmet needs’ and developing relevant business solutions.

[1] From text originally written by the CBI Climate Change Board at the following URL: http://climatechange.cbi.org.uk/cbi-climate-change-board/

[2] See DEFRA model in appendix 2 of NESTA report (2008), p.51, 52 – http://www.nesta.org.uk/selling-sustainability-report/

[3] http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/climatechange/areviewofpublicattitudestocl5731?page=4

[4] http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/emerging-technologies/Pages/full-length-video.aspx

[5] http://www.backbonemag.com/Magazine/2010-06/cleantech.aspx

May 2010: For your low-carbon product, do you really want to charge people extra for ‘being green’?

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By , December 27, 2010 7:23 am

May 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

There is sometimes a sense that green products should be charged at a price premium. But how often is this the right approach? Instead consider, for your green product, whether it can be positioned as being both greener and better value than competitors. Also, think what could be done to enhance each customer’s post-purchase satisfaction.

Companies developing low-carbon brands should be wary of charging a premium to customers for ‘being green’ – the danger is that people will feel ripped-off.  This is how Peter Tertzakian, the environmentally-minded economist, felt when offered a hire car upgrade to a Prius for an extra $15 a day. As he described in a blog article[1], unless he was going to drive a very large distance to defray the extra rental costs, ‘going green’ would cost extra. There was a dissonance between his desire to use the energy-efficient, ‘green’ car, and his wish to have the best value-for-money.

Indeed, evidence from the marketing literature strongly suggests that the most powerful marketing propositions align both emotional and rational appeals[2]; and that building brand equity requires positive brand experience over time[3].

So, instead of trying to get people to ‘pay extra to buy green’, companies can often make the case that their low-carbon brand is both green and saves money. When it comes to getting people to invest in improving the energy-efficiency of their home, it is usually a matter of overcoming people’s reticence to pay up-front capital costs in order that they can generate savings over time. (p.5; pdf[4] In line with behavioural economics, different versions of the value proposition can be tested among target consumers to discover which is actually most effective in getting people to buy.


In the UK, the well-established ‘A to G’ scale is a brand device which successfully integrates emotional desires and rational rewards. It provides information helping to determine how environmentally-friendly a product is, and delivers benefits to the individual customer allowing them to save energy running-costs, and enhancing resale value on major products (cars/houses). According to the first wave of our Environmental Choices survey, conducted in late 2008, 72% of English people recognised the ‘A to G’ scale, and 47% of English people indicated that this scale had had an impact on their behaviour. This impact was higher amongst those most concerned about climate change (Climate Citizens; 59%) compared to those least concerned (Sceptics & Uninvolved; 32%).

A recent UK marketing device is ‘Carbon Labelling’, a system designed to show that the manufacturer is measuring, and committed to reducing, the carbon footprint of a product. It is an impressive achievement to be able to provide this information, enabling people to make ‘low-carbon’ consumer choices. But how much do such choices directly benefit the individual? Could more be done to encourage adoption – maybe with prize draws, social recognition and/or some form of ‘Green Credits’ (a scheme suggested by Zerofootprint (pdf[5])?  Whilst the ‘A to G’ scale has become largely mandatory, carbon labelling is not – and I wonder if consumers, and businesses, expect that ‘carbon labelled’ products should command a price premium, taking into account the extra work involved? By late 2008, our Environmental Choices survey showed that just 9% of English people recognised the ‘Carbon Labelling’ logo, and only 2% indicated that it had affected their behaviour (mostly Climate Citizens) – though we should recognise that ‘Carbon Labelling’ is still quite new.

We are not arguing that it is never appropriate for companies to get people to pay extra for their low-carbon offering. For example, Canadian clean-electricity provider Bullfrog Power is currently undertaking an advertising campaign enticing people to ‘Pay More For Energy’. Yet this is likely to be part of a niche strategy within a crowded market; I suspect that they would be delighted to achieve 5% market share. They also clearly communicate why they charge extra. For their customers, they provide the individual benefit of becoming part of a Facebook Bullfrog Power community[6]. By late 2008, our Environmental Choices study shows that Bullfrog Power is best known in Ontario, where (based on 398 respondents) 18% were aware of the company and 2% used them.

In summary, here are three integrated marketing challenges for any low-carbon value proposition:

First, how well does it evoke emotional desires – especially amongst those concerned about climate change? This could be to do with how it helps the customer do ‘good for the environment’, and/or its visceral, aesthetic appeal.

Second, how can the proposition be designed so that it ‘makes sense’ to a consumer to buy? It is about satisfying the individual customer, and likely to be at least in part to do with financial justification – although a creative use of other rewards might also work. Depending on the type of product and buying situation, this can be about rational argument, or it could be more about framing the customer decision in a more sub-conscious way.

Thirdly, once the customer has bought the low-carbon product, what could be done to enhance each customer’s satisfaction in this purchase? This is about a rational reflection of ‘making a good decision’, leading to emotional attachment to the brand. This is the basis of building brand equity, and word of mouth recommendation.

[1] http://www.endofenergyobesity.com/blog/?p=159

[2] Page 27, Selling Sustainability, NESTA (2008), http://www.nesta.org.uk/selling-sustainability-report/

[3] How to Use Advertising to Build Brands: In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, Spike Cramphorn, IJMR, Vol. 48, No. 3, 2006

[4] Page 5, The Growth Potential for Microgeneration in England, Wales and Scotland, 2008, (pdf) http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46003.pdf

[5] http://www.zerofootprint.net/images/uploads/Green_Credits.pdf

[6] http://www.facebook.com/BullfrogPower

April 2010: How climate change concern can motivate people to be interested in your offering

By , December 27, 2010 12:21 am

April 2010, Market Intelligence Article for Sustainable Business Magazine, reproduced with permission.

Peter Winters, President, Haddock Research & Branding

Double-click on the offprint below to see it in a larger size.

Climate change is stimulating unmet emotional desires within consumer society. In this study, a simple factual description of a new microgeneration product was presented to respondents – and the best predictor of enthusiasm for the product was whether the individual was very concerned about climate change, or not. As cleantech companies gear up for mass-market roll-out of their low-carbon products, we should expect those most concerned about climate change to be driving early adoption.

The management of cleantech companies might be forgiven for thinking that they need to concentrate on the performance and price of their products, when marketing to consumers, rather than place much emphasis on its ‘low-carbon appeal’. Do people really get excited about the environmental performance of their gas boiler, or of installing low-energy light bulbs? After all, a recent survey by the department of transport in the UK[1], seem to suggest that climate change is low down the list of the public’s priorities. And in the US, the Pew Centre[2] recently concluded that ‘dealing with global warming ranks at the bottom of the public’s list of priorities’.

But, by taking a consumer-viewpoint, it is possible to conceptualise the low-carbon marketing environment in a rather different way.

The research data we have seen, including our own Environmental Choices survey, indicates that the public is extremely divided about climate change. In this context, it is entirely misleading to think of the public as a single entity which is ‘modestly concerned about climate change’. In short, some people are very concerned about climate change, and others – not at all.

Taking a metaphor from sport, our Environmental Choices data also shows that 37% of English people are passionate about football, 30% are passionate about gardening, and 20% are passionate about rugby. If you think this means that ‘English people are enthusiastic about football and gardening’ but ‘are only modestly interested in rugby’, you ought to get out more, and buy tickets to a 6-nations international at Twickenham! Instead, we should be considering ‘climate change’, like ‘rugby’, as being a relatively minor ‘brand’. Whilst minor brands typically suffer the double jeopardy of both smaller numbers of users who are also less exclusively loyal (compared to the users of major brands), they can still create valuable franchises, and evoke powerful emotions amongst their followers.

And emotional connection is essential. Information, and good economic arguments, about your cleantech product is not enough!  Consumers will have to want it, and feel good about buying it. As a 2008 study about UK Microgeneration stated ‘consumer behaviour towards buying energy efficient or ‘green’ products is found to derive from a mixture of so-called ‘rational’ factors – including economic analysis – and from emotional, societal and cultural factors. Consumer uptake has been slow even for rapid payback investments such as low energy light bulbs and loft and cavity wall insulation.’ (p.26 of pdf) [3]

But, is it possible to put a value on the low-carbon enthusiasm that certain people feel for low-carbon products? After all, people are not very good at accurately assigning their motivations for doing things.

The issue underlying this need is to measure ‘causality’ – how to measure the importance of various factors in getting people to act in a certain way. Somewhat akin to medical randomised trials, one approach is to separate people into those who are ‘concerned about climate change’ from those who are ‘unconcerned about climate change’ to see if there is a difference in the ‘test outcome’.  This is what we did with our Environmental Choices study, using a statistical technique called CHAID.

As part of the study we tested consumer reactions to a simple, factual description of a prototype micro-generation product. This product profile had no brand positioning, no mention of the manufacturer, and did not refer to climate change or carbon emissions. The dependent variable was being an ‘Enthusiast’ for the product or not; defined as those who found the micro-generation product both ‘very appealing’ and who indicated they would be ‘very likely to install one’. The analysis was conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of 626 English people who fit appropriate screening criteria.

For the predictor variables, we included a range of demographic variables (age/sex, region, number in household, presence of children, income, political allegiance), as well as a 3-way segmentation about people’s attitudes towards climate change. Climate Citizens (33% of this sample) are the people most concerned about climate change, and Sceptics/Uninvolved (27%) the least. Those who were mildly concerned about climate change are termed Mild Greens (40%). The CHAID analysis showed that the best predictor for being an ‘Enthusiast’ was whether someone was concerned about climate change or not. 25% of Climate Citizens were ‘Enthusiasts’ compared to 13% of everyone else.

This analysis provides evidence that ‘concern about climate change’ is a valuable motivator for this particular low-carbon product.  It is also part of general findings from the Environmental Choices study that Climate Citizens are particularly likely to have interests and behaviours which are more ‘low-carbon’. As cleantech companies gear up for mass-market roll-out of their low-carbon products, we should expect that Climate Citizens (representing about a third of the population) to be driving early-adoption.

[1] http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/trsnstatsatt/climatechgejan2010report

[2] http://people-press.org/report/584/policy-priorities-2010

[3] Page 26 (pdf) http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46003.pdf

SustainabilityLive! 2010 presentation: 5 top tips for low carbon marketing

By , April 19, 2010 5:11 pm



Market Intelligence: Challenge your assumptions on how to market your low carbon product; 5 top tips based on international primary research data.

Above is our conference presentation for the SustainabilityLive conference on April 21st 2010, held in Birmingham, England. It is a presentation which has really been in-the-making over the past couple of years, since we started Haddock Research & Branding in 2008. The main authors are James Ambler and Peter Winters. Originally Peter, who is based in Montreal, was due to give the talk, but an Icelandic volcano made that impossible – so James stepped to give the presentation. Here are the 5 top tips:
  1. Think of public interest in climate change as a niche
  2. Provide an integrated value proposition
  3. Consider existing high-carbon attachments
  4. ‘The active low-carbon consumer’ varies by industry sector
  5. In communications think ‘of metaphors & men’

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