How to communicate your renewable energy strategy to customers

This year the Climate Group and RE-Source have been hosting the Communicators of Change Taskforce. The taskforce is a new group for highly respected senior communications professionals committed to promoting the benefits of renewables.

It is an opportunity for peer-learning and provides a safe space for leaders to share challenges and ideas for continuous improvement. Members of the taskforce include Asahi Europe and International, Bosch, Chanel, Decathlon, Nestlé, Nissan and Sanofi. 

In this blog series, we will be sharing the insights and learnings for the taskforce. This week, we’re diving into communicating with customers about renewables. For more information on the taskforce please contact Aleksandra Klassen at [email protected].

Bring it into the real world

Making things real for your customers – and giving them something to engage with rather than just consume – can be a great way to share your action on renewable energy. Is there a way that you can use technology to bring your action to life? Can you find a way to connect the customer with the product’s journey, including the resources and energy that went into creating the product for them?

For Birra Peroni, a brand of Asahi Europe and International, the answer was in using blockchain technology for traceability. Birra Peroni bottles in Italy now come with a QR code for consumers to scan and find out where the grain to brew their beer was produced, following its journey to the brewery and then finally to the consumer’s hand.

Another way of making renewables real to customers was demonstrated by Decathlon in Belgium earlier this year when they launched a scheme where customers can provide Decathlon with their surplus solar energy in exchange for a gift voucher to spend in store.

Strike the right balance with education

Corporates can play a role in raising awareness about the climate crisis and educating consumers. However, it is a careful balance. Make sure you don’t make assumptions about the level of awareness amongst your customers, otherwise it may well backfire. No one wants to feel preached to. Are your customers already on board with the transition to renewable energy, sat on the fence, or non-believers? Know where they are before you start planning your communications.

And if you do choose the education angle, make sure you can illustrate your points and back it up with significant and relevant action that you’re taking to help speed up the transition.

Be transparent

As ever, when communicating with any audience about your renewable energy targets, it is important that you are transparent about your targets and what you’re trying to achieve. Before you share anything, make sure you have your facts right. Customers also don’t just want to hear about targets, they want to hear about your progress. When you make significant progress, using this as a moment to celebrate this with your customers makes a great communications opportunity.

Transparency should be non-negotiable, including in times of uncertainty. Companies will have to navigate unknowns and may engage in new solutions, like green heat contracts for example, for which today there is little regulation. In these cases, being open about potential future hurdles, like changing laws around accounting treatments, may help reduce risk, according to taskforce member Asahi Europe and International

Make your customer part of the journey

Finally, in any communications you create, don’t forget to make the customer part of the journey. The story doesn’t end once the product reaches the customer’s hands. Use the opportunity to thank the customer for their role in the transition. Let them know that by choosing you and/or your product they are helping to speed up the switch to renewables.

Next up the Communicators of Change Taskforce will be looking at how best to communicate the careful balance between reality and being ambitious.

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