Jamie Wimberly is on a mission to get plain English into the energy vocabulary. He thinks the ideas of the new energy landscape, like green power and smart grid, to name a couple examples, would gain greater acceptance and understanding if engineers and regulators weren’t creating the definitions. It seems that a majority of Americans want to be “green” but have little idea what it means or how to turn those intentions into action. Wimberly’s company, EcoAlign, a marketing firm with an environmental perspective, recently released the results of the sixth EcoPinion Survey “Green Gap Redux: Green Words Gone Wrong.” The survey tests consumer awareness and acceptance of terms used by the media and energy industry for messaging and communications around energy conservation, clean energy and smart grid.
The survey confirms that consumers generally define clean energy as “good, important and necessary.” But the analysis shows that consumers do not understand what the terms mean and they perceive little value. So the “green gap” between preferences and purchasing decisions persists. Wimberly, EcoAlign’s CEO, says “corporate communications tends to be siloed” from technical side, customers don’t understand the concepts. “If you don’t engage them then you can expect them to get angry,” he says.
The survey was conducted online in September and consisted of 1,000 interviews. It revealed what he calls a “commodity gap” in which the adoption of renewable energy or energy conservation, two-thirds of Americans focused on either cost or value. The challenge is to move from a focus on cost to a value creation. Also, clean energy is described as “forward looking,” or something se set in the future, and implies a transformation that significant amount of people believe to be expensive.