We like to think we live in a world of alternative energy. There’s solar power and many of us drive hybrid cars that use electricity to increase gas mileage. There’s even a Hillary Clinton ad airing in my area, North Carolina, which showcases her promise to increase the number of solar panels in our country.
But you wouldn’t know that we are moving to an alternative energy world Saturday night in the South. A pipeline near Birmingham, Alabama, broke, starting a gas shortage, thus creating empty pumps, long lines and high gas prices.
What year is this? 1979?
Many gas stations have that dreaded plastic bag over the pump handles, while increasing gas prices. We’re not in panic mode by any means, but it is still startling.
Fully switching to alternative energy will take more than concern over the environment.
It got me thinking that switching to anything is such difficult work. Most of us, including myself, talk a good game when it comes to the environment and alternative energy, but I do little about it. Oh, I have an energy efficient air conditioner, but honestly I have it because it reduces my energy costs. Not because I’m doing something for the greater world.
Think about this. Remember when the metric system was supposed to take over our highways? We were going to join the rest of the world in adopting the system. It only seemed logical.
But that effort failed.
I bring this up not to berate anyone. But to point out that getting people to switch to anything is enormously arduous.
That is the biggest reason why I do berate brands that believe the same old approach will get consumers to switch brands, even though there is little differentiation among each market’s players.
Each car ad looks and sounds the same. Each beer ad is a copy of another. Car insurance, which spends untold amounts on advertising, offers little reason to switch.
To actually prompt a change in any market you have to be different and better, and often that means being so different that you actually offer a true choice. The definition of a switching trigger is switching to something you don’t have. Otherwise, you stay put.
I don’t think we’ll be switching to the metric system anytime soon. To fully adopt alternative energy we’ll need a stronger and more emotional reason than saving the environment. When a gas shortage directly affects us, then we consider switching.
Sometimes it’s in the crisis where the greatest leap forward takes place. But there are better ways to prompt a switch.