Energy, Utility & Environmental

The highly experienced consulting team at Limelight Insights conducts research for utilities and nonprofits that focus on energy efficiency and the environment.  Our team’s studies have evaluated energy appliance labeling, energy usage and conservation, home insulation, deregulation of the utilities industry, the Energy Star program and a sister international program, target market segmentation for utility / energy providers, customer satisfaction, global warming / climate change, and effectiveness of communications campaigns.

A large part of our business is answering critical questions
and providing actionable direction.

Here are some of the questions members of the Limelight Insights by Shugoll team
has helped energy, utility, and environmental clients answer:

How would we segment consumers to effectively maximize purchases of energy-efficient appliances?

Using a two-stage research process, Limelight Insights would first conduct qualitative research (in-depth interviews, focus groups, or ethnographies) with different segments of consumers (e.g. new home buyers, homeowners with older homes) to explore their views on energy efficiency and energy-efficient appliances, and to test alternative message benefits. A large sample segmentation study with consumers across the country would follow to measure consumer attitudes and behaviors regarding energy-efficient appliances, profile attitudinally and behaviorally the segments of the population most likely to purchase energy-efficient appliances and identify the most effective messages to motivate these segments to purchase energy-efficient appliances. Specifically, a Maximum Difference Scaling (Max-Diff) analysis would help us — and the client — to better understand the effect of various message combinations on consumer behavioral intent.

How do we determine the energy label design that has the most impact on appliance purchases and perceptions of appliance quality and value?

Here’s one example of how we’ve achieved this: Members of our team conducted a simulated shopping experiment to closely approximate how consumers react to appliance energy labels in a real-world setting. Multiple brands of appliances and multiple models within brands were used in the experiment.

Real-world prices and point-of-purchase marketing materials were made available for all models. Limelight Insights prefers this type of research design over a survey because it comes closer to predicting future purchase behavior. Consumer behavior was observed, purchase decisions were recorded and study participants were asked to complete a series of questions about their experiences. Results were used to finalize the energy label that is in use on appliances in retail settings.

How would we redesign our website targeted to gas and electric customers to add self-service applications?

Limelight Insights has extensive experience conducting website design and usability research. We have aided utility companies in developing website applications such as creating a username and password, paying utility bills online and how to stop, start or move service. One-on-one in-depth interviews are conducted with residential and commercial customers in person or remotely to evaluate how they use the application and identify changes that are needed to make the application more user friendly. Results are used to finalize and launch these applications on client websites.

As a utility company, how would we go about developing a brand name and logo for two business service units that we are combining?

Limelight Insights is a recognized leader in branding research, which includes brand name development. For a brand name development research study, we recommend conducting a multistage project that would begin with a brainstorming session with the client project team and its branding company to discuss and generate several names for testing. Qualitative research with decision makers at small and medium-sized businesses would be conducted in order to identify the top three brand names. Logo treatments for each of the three brand names would be developed and a quantitative survey would be conducted with the same target audiences to identify the name and logo treatment with the highest favorability.

How do we develop communications messages to inform the public about environmental issues and garner support for legislation?

Many environmental advocacy organizations need to communicate with the public, policy elites, and influencers to gain support for their causes. Limelight Insights has conducted several such studies to aid in developing campaigns for clients who represent environmental issues and causes. One such well-received study was related to global warming, and results were used to identify the most effective communications approach and specific language that should be used to best convey the message.

Focus group research was conducted with two segments of respondents: (1) members of the public who are somewhat concerned about global warming, yet remain uncommitted to the issue and (2) those who are very concerned about the issue and are engaged in environmental causes. Focus groups were conducted across the country in the South, Midwest, and West Coast. Results suggested the public is receptive to the campaign message but want to know more about how global warming affects them, what they can do about the issue, and where they can get more information.

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