Worst green marketing. Ever.

This video of the Chevy Volt dancers performing at the LA Auto Show is not for the faint of heart.

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Personnas that work expose the feelings & emotions underlying rational thought

Lately I’ve been reading and thinking about the role of emotion in buying decisions. Then I read a review of the Chevy Volt.

The reviewer is one Mark Richardson, who edits the automotive section of my newspaper. He is not a Volt fan. Would the road test change his mind? Richardson devotes the first 15 paragraphs to how the Volt makes him feel. Here’s a taste:

  • “it doesn’t deserve the hype”
  • “it’s expensive”
  • “its claimed fuel consumption is a hopeless distortion of the facts”
  • “its won awards it doesn’t deserve… from sycophantic ‘auto journalists’ who’ve never even turned a proper wheel in it”
  • government rebates to buy plug-in cars are “a bribe.”

Pretty harsh, and typical of how the majority of consumers feel. Wave a green flag in front of them and you fan these hot coals of contempt into flame.

These views put Richardson in the heart of the Late Majority segment of car buyers. So total cost of ownership (TCO) should loom large in his thinking. Richardson writes 5 paragraphs to calculate the total cost of ownership. He’s excited when the Volt’s TCO is less than its all-gas sibling, the Cruze. But he’s still not convinced.

Like a Late Majority type Richardson demands performance too. Listen to how Richardson describes driving the Volt:

  • “There’s no compromise”
  • “It’s peppy if you want it to be.”
  • Recharging the battery during braking “is not so obvious that it’s a distraction”
  • Unlike all-electric cars, driving the Volt gave him no “range anxiety… you can drive the Volt as an electric commuter all week and then up to the cottage on weekends. If you forget to plug it in, no big deal.”
  • Richardson was “astonished at the unobtrusive capability” of the Volt

Did spending time in a Volt make Richardson change his mind? Yes. The Volt is his candidate for Car of the Year. Anybody who markets products with a green dimension needs a personna in their library based on Mark Richardson.

Guns, ammo and energy rebates

It seems that when we give people feedback on just about any task, from ranging anti-aircraft artillery to reducing household energy use, our performance improves.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this fact is a surprise. 2011 is the 30th anniversary of a study that proves we conserve more energy if we get feedback on how much energy we’re using. It’s all there in Encouraging Residential Energy Conservation Through Feedback.

The authors of this paper wondered if feedback that compared homeowners to other, similar homeowners would be as effective. Thirty years on, the answer is “yes.”

Envy can do good. Really.

The reasons for that are well, irrational. It turns out that we make decisions based on emotion. All those theories about people as rational actors in the marketplace? Wrong. How we feel makes us skew the value of a fact compared to its absolute value. If reading this makes you angry, don’t worry. Your reaction is normal. When people are shown that their emotions make them play fast and loose with the facts they get upset.

Anyway, if you’re still with me, envy is that hollow, gnawing-in-the-gut feeling we get when our neighbor brings home a shiny new car, or a barbeque, or a baby.

It seems that when we find out we’re using more energy than our our neighbors we cut back to use just a little less than they do. Is that envy at work? Maybe it’s some inverted, dark envy? Who cares? It works.

So, to boost participation in energy-saving rebate programs let folks know how their household energy use compares to the neighbors’.