The Sponsors of Mass Save used Cadmus’ social listening analysis to inform and strengthen pre-existing marketing and messaging strategies related to energy-efficient products.
The Massachusetts ENERGY STAR® Lighting & Products initiative is sponsored by electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers, including Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil (the Sponsors of Mass Save). The goal of the initiative is to increase the supply of, and demand for, energy-efficient lighting and consumer products through customer education and product promotions, as well as rebates and financial incentives in partnership with retailers and manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth.
The Sponsors of Mass Save execute a mature lighting and products initiative in a rapidly transforming market. As energy-efficient products have evolved and the uptake of products heads closer to a saturation point, it has become increasingly difficult to continue meeting aggressive program sales goals for products such as LED bulbs, clothes dryers, dehumidifiers, room air cleaners, and showerheads. To continue to achieve program goals, the Sponsors needed a deeper understanding of customer motivation, the research measures customers base their decisions on (particularly online), and how to leverage this customer data to continue enhancing marketing strategies for Mass Save. To compound the challenge, Mass Save customers fall into a wide range of demographics.
The Cadmus team recognized an opportunity to help the Sponsors of Mass Save optimize their marketing approach by understanding the way their customers feel, think, and conduct research on energy-efficient products.
Cadmus conducted a study in the first quarter of 2016 to understand how customers research energy-efficient products online and assess the most influential factors in their purchase decisions. Our team used a social media analytics tool, which identifies and analyzes online conversations based on select keywords, to identify common discussion topics for various products, differences in these topics based on demographics, and specific events that stimulate increased conversation and research on certain products.
Our research revealed practical insights with immediate application to marketing efforts. One of the most valuable was the identification of distinct triggers that demonstrably boosted the volume of associated online conversation. For instance, when a large wet-weather event on the East Coast in late 2012 led to flooding, we saw online discussions on dehumidifiers spike; meanwhile, drought conditions in the West led to increased conversations on water conservation and, thus, energy-efficient showerheads.
We also noticed trends and differences in how men and women researched products online. For room air cleaners, we saw that product research conversations by men largely focused on the technical specifications of the model, such as the air delivery rate and air changes per hour, while conversations by women more frequently included quality-of-life-related keywords, such as family, children, health, and sleep. Similar differences were apparent in conversations on LED light bulbs: while male users more frequently discussed lighting specifications and costs, conversations by women often used keywords alluding to the look and feel created by specific types of lighting.
Cadmus has expanded its in-house online research capabilities using these methods to offer its clients these relevant customer insights, much like we have for the Sponsors of Mass Save.
The Sponsors of Mass Save have begun to incorporate research findings from this project into the initiative’s 2016 marketing plan, including these specific enhancements:
- Incorporation of keywords for all product categories into paid search and future online advertising initiatives
- Segmentation of social media content and advertisements to cater to identified interests specific to age group and gender
- Identification of key brands for promising product categories that have been underemphasized in past marketing efforts, such as dehumidifiers and room air cleaners.
Our team will monitor trends associated with changes in marketing strategy using insights collected from our research to continue optimization over time.