Sunday, January 03, 2010

When Will Solar Go Mainstream?

There is an unfortunate fact about emerging markets that causes great frustration for anyone offering something "new." A recent article on the RenewableEnergy.com website about how most people still view solar as something in the future, but not here today, is a good example.

People do not view something new as "in the mainstream" until they see someone EXACTLY like themselves using it. So a homeowner in Iowa with a 2000 sq. ft house located on a hill, must see another homeowner in Iowa with a 2000 sq. ft house located on a hill using solar before he describes solar as available here and now. You can have millions of people using solar in other parts of the world, on all kinds of different buildings, and it means NOTHING to the guy on a hill in Iowa.

I've studied this peculiar market-behavior pattern for many many years now and it applies to anything new or innovative that is introduced into a marketplace. In every case, the secret to achieving mainstream market acceptance (which includes positive support from NPR correspondents) is extreme vertical marketing. In other words, focus on one vertical market segment at a time because mainstream buyers/users will only accept information from people who are identical to themselves.

Any technology that is considered mainstream today, had to go through a phase of extreme vertical marketing to get there. And I'm not seeing anyone do this yet in the solar industry.

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