Energy Efficiency has Become the
New Conspicuous Consumption
Jeff Kussard (firstname.lastname@example.org) is
strategic development director for Capitol.
I, like many of my colleagues in CI, now
find myself becoming occasionally wistful
thinking about the long, exciting run we
experienced over the previous decade.
It was a time when a seemingly endless
supply of new housing starts inspired a
breadth of advanced technologies and
products that appealed to every need and
a variety of budgets. When the
change came, it came fast, leaving
many pros scratching their
heads about how best to proceed
in a new and, for some, intimidating
market. Here are four observations
about the current state
of our market and how you can
position your company for success
in this new era.
1 The days of conspicuous consumption are over. Let’s face it,
the era of conspicuous consumption is over. While an economic recovery
is on the way, none of us should expect to experience the same level of
veracity, even when more consumers are gainfully employed. For an industry
that relies on occasionally extravagant spending, it is time to step back and reflect
upon what direction we must take in order to remain strong and profitable.
2 There is a financial incentive to consumers to being green. Even
before the downturn, the trend toward greener technologies and products
was in full swing, and it has only picked up velocity over the past two years. It
is no surprise that consumers are looking for ways to save on energy costs, oh
and maybe to help protect the environment a little bit.
While consumers are jumping in to do their part in ever increasing numbers,
the fact of the matter is that they wouldn’t be doing so if there wasn’t a
green incentive of the financial kind.
3 Manufacturers are giving us a green story to tell. Our vendor partners
are well aware of the green trend and are responding with products
that are ENERGY STAR compliant and, in many cases, RoHS compliant
as well (see sidebox). While RoHS is of primary concern to manufacturers
who do business in Europe, it’s also proving to be an effective selling tool
here at home. I’ve spoken with many creative dealers who are quick to point
out to their clients just how RoHS certification means that they are buying
products that are more efficient and ecologically sound than those that are
not. Combined with the ENERGY STAR story, consumers correctly believe
that RoHS compliance may lead to saving a few dollars on energy bills while
keeping their region free of hazardous materials.
4 Consumers will respond to a green message, if you have one. The
perception of green is almost as important as being green. No, I’m not advocating
that we mislead our end-users. Rather, it is up to us to tout the green
side of the business across the board. From advertising to websites, we must
be relentless in our approach to highlighting the green benefits of our products
and services whenever and wherever the opportunity exists.
For example, I tell our dealers that their promotional materials (including
web sites and social networking pages) should always feature a section on
how being green is good for the environment
and the wallet. Detail those products
that can be positioned as such, with
emphasis on how they present a more
affordable option than less ecologically
sound alternatives. Also, it is worthwhile
to feature general standards and recycling
practices for the region, with information
on how your business is supporting
these practices to the betterment of
And it isn’t enough to just talk about
the products in your catalog. Here is
where a dealer can become a bona fide resource, reaching out to an existing
database, placing editorial in local newspapers and web forums, and speaking
at local gatherings to discuss how specific trends in electronics are helping to
improve the environment while saving a few dollars at the end of the month.
It all comes down to branding. There is no question that the green mindset
will be with us for the
foreseeable future, and I
couldn’t be happier. As
consumers retreat from
the CI industry is
turning to more practical
concerns to remain vital.
Unfamiliar with RoHS?
RoHS refers to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive that was
adopted by the European Union in 2003. Simply put, RoHS restricts the use of
hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronics and electrical equipment.
While the standard is of primary concern to manufacturers who do business in Europe, it’s
also proving to be an effective selling tool in North America.