Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Easy Solar Segments Are Gone

Today's solar markets have exhausted the "easy" segments. Typically, customers exhibit purchase behavior over time that is different at each stage of a market's development. Innovators (typically about 2.5 percent of a market) are often fascinated with new technology. Early adopters (about 13.5 percent of a market) are less fascinated with technology but are often quick to see the potential benefits of something new.

But the great majority of a potential market -- the remaining 85 percent -- is usually not fascinated with solar technology at all. In fact, the most substantial portion of any market may be those who fundamentally dislike technology.

Solar organizations that understand the shift in potential customer focus will recalibrate their marketing. They will concentrate more on the complete (intangible) product and less on the technical specs or "tangible" features.

Developing a complete product means helping the customer focus on how the product will improve his/her future. It requires detailed knowledge of the customer's life and direction, not merely an understanding of the efficiency of a solar cell.

Companies that do not understand this fundamental change will experience an abyss in their growth curves. Once the easy segments of their markets are exhausted, additional sales will come only at the expenditure of substantial resources, and the returns on sales and marketing will decline rapidly.


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