First Ever Women-Oriented Solar Survey Highlights Unveiled at SPI, Part 1

Solar Central, the news hub of the annual Solar Power International U.S. gathering, served as the focal point for a trend at this year’s show – the discussion of women inside and outside the industry and their impact on the growth of solar.

Our presentation, Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women, was comprised of four components:  

  1. Feedback from female colleagues on the topic of how the industry can market more effectively to women in America,
  2. Highlighted key statistics of the survey currently reaching women homeowners and moms,
  3. A live insights panel featuring four leaders in the industry,
  4. A first ever show floor “Faces of Women4Solar” photo, which showcased nearly 40 women in the industry.

Watch the taped presentation below:

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Compelling Findings on the “Chief Purchasing Officer”

After much conversation about women and solar, we started to research just what the stats were regarding this topic.  We are a world driven by numbers and stats. We use them to inspire us and guide us. 

Rhone Resch stated nearly one year ago to this day that more than 92 percent of Americans express their love for solar. As an industry, we no doubt look to this number daily as a guiding light to the potential for solar in America.

We took a deeper dive to see how this relates to the solar sale. We wanted to find out who in the household is initiating the conversation around the dinner table around solar and who is moving from research to actively pursuing a solar installation.

According to renowned marketer Marti Barletta, 80 percent of women initiate home improvement projects. They are the CPOs of the house (chief purchasing officer).

So where are the women in the solar sales cycle? How do we connect?

We know from existing research that many women consider themselves “Digital Divas.” In fact, 89 percent of us use the Internet at least twice a day (some of us ALL day), with 84 percent of us spending our time on social media sites. This is where we get our inspiration, share our experiences, and learn what our friends are doing. Facebook has essentially become our virtual “soccer field,” where all of us soccer moms congregate. This is where solar can grow like wildfire, that is, if the industry, as whole, strikes the right match (literally and figuratively!).

That brings us to one last compelling stat: approximately 70 percent of women feel misunderstood by marketers in most male-dominated industries.

Feedback from Women in the Solar Industry

Next we reached out to 150 women solar industry professionals to get their feedback on how the industry could do a better job of reaching women. Responses fell in a series of themes.  Social media themed responses included:

“At Clean Power Finance, we are promoting better understanding and outreach through a collaborative effort working with other solar companies and Facebook to better promote solar on the Facebook platform.”

-Kirstin Hoefer, SVP Marketing, Clean Power Finance

“We need to stop selling on features and start emphasizing female-centric benefits. Benefits must appeal to a busy mother persona. And market more effectively on social media, particularly Pinterest and Facebook, where more women tend to be engaged online.”

-Keally DeWitt, Social Change Marketer & Community Organizer, SunRun 

“Our female customers are most active on social media sites. The majority of our customers, who write online solar testimonials, are female as well. Increasing the industry’s web and social media presence, and targeting sites that are frequented by female consumers, is very important.”

-Sandhya Keller, Social Media & Online Reputation Manager, Sungate Energy Solutions

Under “Women-to-Women Straight Talk, What Resonates Most with Women,” responses included:

“Best way to reach the female consumer is to be present where they live, work and play – look to blogs, magazines, and female professional groups.”

-Monique Hanis, VP Marketing & Communications & COO, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Former Director of Communications, SEIA

 “Women need to see excited intelligent females discussing what solar means for them, their children’s health, and their wallets and for their community. We need women talking to women about solar.”

– Beth Bond, Curator of Sustainable News; Managing Partner,; Founder, Talk Solar Radio

 “…it’s mission-critical for solar installers to invest in building relationships with women beginning with initial outreach through consistent and effective branding and marketing, not just pushy sales pitches (typically from men).”

– Liz Oh, President, Solar Marketing Group

“Women in general are concerned about creating a legacy of concern for the environment, if for no other reason, to leave the planet a better place for future generations. “

-Theresa Jester, CEO, Silicor Materials

Under “Salesperson Needs to Connect with Female Consumer, Convey Trust,” responses included:

 “Women do tend to have the pocketbook for the family and to be an equal decision maker on many/all of the sales that I have sat in on. But more often than not, the salesperson directs the conversation to the man of the house. This can tend to upset the woman and could potentially end the deal if she feels that she was not included or even worse ignored.”

– Kristin Underwood, Co-Owner, Planet Earth Solar

“Women will respond to solar advertising and marketing that respects their boundaries as well as engenders a solid reputation of trust.”

-Dr. Mary Beth McCabe, Professor, National University; President, Sun Marketing

Watch for Part 2, which will feature highlights for the industry’s first women oriented survey.

Come chat about this topic during the next #SolarChat on November 13th. Register here.

Co-authored by Raina Russo, #SolarChat Founder, and Glenna Wiseman, Founder, Identity3, originators of “Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women” the industry’s first women oriented survey.   

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Raina Russo is founder of #SolarChat, a think-tank utilizing the power of social media to discuss issues related to solar and renewable energy, connecting thousands of solar professionals in Twitter discussions generating an average of 4.5 million impressions per online event. #SolarChat also hosts in-person “TweetUps” and other networking events in conjunction with major solar industry conferences. The organization’s online social communities amplify the message of making solar a reality for every home and business across America.Russo is also the co-founder of #Women4Solar, compelled to drive change through addressing female related issues both inside and outside of the industry.Russo maintains an active social community for those interested in solar and renewable energy on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pintrist under EcoOutfitters, Women4Solar and SolarChat.Russo holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and served as a project engineer with Skanska USA, the number one green contractor in the U.S. She also served as a Liaison to the United Nations for the Israeli Defense Force.

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