Energy marketing seeks you. Are you a leader or a follower?

In social relationships, there are two main forms of human behaviour: to be a leader or to be a follower. Both are related to the role of identity. A leader forms his own identity while followers are naturally part of a broader group and share a collective identity with others.

Energy Marketing experts know how to exploit the difference and the perception around this distinction and it is the key to enlarge the numbers of potential buyers of a particular class of goods.

This happens because people try to find external symbols to confirm their role within society – to be identified as a leader or as a member of a special group. These are things that can give both self-confidence and respect or/and approval/acceptance by others.

But how can we be accepted?

Just as a group follows a leader, so the same symbols of leadership are at the base of the identity of the group, even if with slight modifications. It is an imitation process that is an essential element to carry out marketing vis-à-vis to any identified group. With small differences, this psychological behaviour is the same independently from the symbols of leadership. Clothes, art, cars or communications technologies are all aspects related to contemporary personal identities.

This is why advertising and marketing address an exclusive identity or a group identity: “to be the one…” or “to be part of …. “and “to be a member of …”. Energy Marketing is no different.

In an advanced society, all these things need to have a positive intrinsic value well recognized by other people. For instance, if a product is known to be in some way derived from child labour, it cannot be accepted by a civilised society, especially if the public opinion is aware of this situation.
One of the key positive social values, especially in energy marketing, is sustainability. But no-one has ever really succeeded in transforming sustainability into a product. Despite the fact that many companies set up sustainability budgets or that a sustainable behaviour is respected, the marketing of sustainable technology has failed due to the lack of identity.

Until now not one of the renewable energy technologies has really been a marketing success because all the existing business models have been based on technical and financial advantages, such as energy efficiency or government support, but not on a social issue like identity. Most PV plants have been sold with a feed-in tariff based business plan. It means that the market was doped and didn’t follow normal marketing rules.

But if we start to address the leader of the band of “self-appointed” trail blazers, then the situation can change radically. A leader will demand an exclusive PV plant: high quality, excellent engineering with fine aesthetics.

There are at least three levels of different business connected with leadership identity:

• Exclusive identity: extreme customisation through art and craftwork and high quality technology

• Semi-exclusive identity: high quality design

• Group identity: personalisation with the symbols of leader and group. This is the basis of merchandising by every kind of association – from sport to charity.

In these levels the digital technology aspect is the starting point, whereas digital social aspects and their correlation to people of different ages are cross cutting issues