Solar Today November December 2012 : Page 27

pro m o ting solar adoption Green attitudes and behaviors of the nation’s fastest-growing market might surprise you. 5 HISPANICS ARE THE FASTEST-GROW-ING SEGMENT OF AMERICANS, compris-ing more than 50.5 million, or 16 percent, of U.S. residents, according to the U.S. Census of 2010. “State of the Hispanic Consumer,” a Nielsen report published in April, found that the annual buying power for this group is $1.1 trillion and growing. As a population expected to grow 60 percent by 2016, Hispan-ics will play an increasingly important part in shaping the nation’s economy, demographics and culture. Based on our research, they also stand to be a leading market for solar and other renewable energy technologies. Hispanics have significant-ly higher levels of interest than the general popu-lation in sustainable technologies. In particular, they value solar energy — installing nearly twice as many solar water heaters as non-Hispanics. But don’t make the mistake of using the same messaging and media channels preferred by non-Hispanics. Understanding how they are unique will help you and your solar busi-ness provide the information and services most appealing to Hispanics. Insights for Marketing Solar to Hispanics By DR. MARY BETH MCCABE, DR. RAMON CORONA, DR. RICHARD WEAVER Hispanic audiences welcome information on renewable energy technologies. Here, a display at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, in La Jolla, Calif., demonstrates solar energy. H o w Ar e His pa nics Diffe r ent? Whereas Americans in general tend to be individualistic, assertive and focused on accom-plishments and quality of life, Hispanics put groups and hierarchy first, making sacrifices for their children with a focus on accommodating the greater good. Such characteristics might indicate a willing-ness among Hispanics to invest in sustainable practices and products, yet they are divided in this area (Israel, 2008). English-dominant Latino youth with strong online tendencies tend to sup-port green behaviors. Spanish-dominant Hispan-ic families and older Latinos with a weak online presence may be more concerned with pragmatic issues of the family economics and welfare. We know that people who buy eco-friendly products tend to be urban, with large fami-lies and high incomes, are demographically younger, have more education and are active politically (Howenstine, 1993). Our research finds that, in general, Hispanics engage in fewer eco-friendly activities than the gen-eral population — reporting 10 eco-friendly activities versus the general population’s 14 solartoday.org SOLAR TODAY November/December 2012 27 Copyright © 2012 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved. MA RY BETH M CC A BE, PH . D .

5 INSIGHTS FOR MARKETING SOLAR TO HISPANICS

Dr. Mary Beth Mccabe, Dr. Ramon Corona, Dr. Richard Weaver

<br /> HISPANICS ARE THE FASTEST-GROWING SEGMENT OF AMERICANS, comprising more than 50.5 million, or 16 percent, of U.S. residents, according to the U.S. Census of 2010. “State of the Hispanic Consumer,” a Nielsen report published in April, found that the annual buying power for this group is $1.1 trillion and growing. As a population expected to grow 60 percent by 2016, Hispanics will play an increasingly important part in shaping the nation’s economy, demographics and culture.<br /> <br /> Based on our research, they also stand to be a leading market for solar and other renewable energy technologies. Hispanics have significantly higher levels of interest than the general population in sustainable technologies. In particular, they value solar energy — installing nearly twice as many solar water heaters as non-Hispanics.<br /> <br /> But don’t make the mistake of using the same messaging and media channels preferred by non-Hispanics. Understanding how they are unique will help you and your solar business provide the information and services most appealing to Hispanics.<br /> <br /> How Are Hispanics Different?<br /> Whereas Americans in general tend to be individualistic, assertive and focused on accomplishments and quality of life, Hispanics put groups and hierarchy first, making sacrifices for their children with a focus on accommodating the greater good.<br /> <br /> Such characteristics might indicate a willingness among Hispanics to invest in sustainable practices and products, yet they are divided in this area (Israel, 2008). English-dominant Latino youth with strong online tendencies tend to support green behaviors. Spanish-dominant Hispanic families and older Latinos with a weak online presence may be more concerned with pragmatic issues of the family economics and welfare.<br /> <br /> We know that people who buy eco-friendly products tend to be urban, with large families and high incomes, are demographically younger, have more education and are active politically (Howenstine, 1993). Our research finds that, in general, Hispanics engage in fewer eco-friendly activities than the general population — reporting 10 eco-friendly activities versus the general population’s 14 (McCabe and Corona, 2011). An earlier study about awareness and adoption of energy-saving devices found that Hispanics tend to adopt fewer devices than other ethnic groups (Murray, 2011).<br /> <br /> What Info Do They Want and How?<br /> In the fall of 2011, we surveyed a non-random sample of California adults, with a significant percentage of educated, high-income earners, both Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Based on more than 150 responses (34 percent Hispanic) and our exploratory research, we identified some key marketing insights for this audience. Although not conclusive, these findings do describe the pilot study results.<br /> <br /> 1 Ownership of solar water systems was greater among Hispanics than non-Hispanics. Although none of our Hispanic respondents had photovoltaics (PV) installed, 12.8 percent had a solar water heater — nearly double the number of non-Hispanics (see chart 1, left). The cost of solar water heaters is roughly one-quarter to one-third the price of PV, indicating that Hispanics are interested in going solar, but need to see a fast payback. We were surprised to find that among non-Hispanics, 10.5 percent had installed solar PV, but only 6.8 percent had solar water heaters.<br /> 2 Four times as many affluent Hispanics owned solar water heaters as affluent non-Hispanics. Among high-income Hispanics (in households earning $100,000 or more), 23.5 percent had solar water heaters, compared to only 5.7 percent of non-Hispanics with this technology (see chart 2).<br /> 3 Conserving resources is important to many Hispanics. As shown on chart 3, more than a quarter of Hispanics planned low-energy efforts, like turning off lights not in use and conserving water. However, these numbers were lower than for non-Hispanic respondents.<br /> 4 Hispanics seek out solar information. When it came to information interests, solar ranked important “always” for 41 percent of Hispanics surveyed (see chart 4). Large numbers of Hispanics also expressed “always” being interested in information related to saving water, recycling and hybrid cars. This finding suggests that they would engage in more green activities if they had better information.<br /> 5 The best way to reach Hispanics is through TV and radio. When asked what media preferences they preferred, Hispanics’ highest responses were very different from those of non-Hispanics. The top three responses for Hispanics were TV, web and radio. Non-Hispanics favored web, TV and magazines/newspapers, but at much lower levels than Hispanics overall. Twitter was the category preferred by the smallest number of Hispanics, only a quarter as many as non-Hispanics (see chart 5). Such media channels can be used most effectively to convey energy information.<br /> <br /> These results have great implications for solar marketers. It’s clear that Hispanic audiences welcome information on the options for and benefits of renewable energy technologies, especially solar. This audience also appreciates messages about the benefits of simple efficiency measures like turning off lights, recycling and using less water. The most effective means of communicating these messages is through TV, web and radio.<br /> <br /> We recommend further research into why Hispanics adopt some energy-saving choices but not others, and how their cultural ideas are consistent with a renewable energy future. Hispanics are a young, growing and increasingly powerful buying power in the United States. Understanding how they view energy and sustainable practices can go a long way toward achieving widespread adoption of renewable energy.

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