From pv magazine USA.
While the popular thought since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that solar, on the residential side, would be put on the back-burner by consumers until economies reopened and life returned to what can be salvaged of pre-virus normalcy, reality may not reflect this sentiment.
New data from a consumer survey conducted by US-based market research and global consulting firm The Harris Poll for LG shows that consumer interest in investing in solar has actually risen since the onset of the pandemic.
“We were able to glean a little bit of information that was unique to the industry,” LG’s VP of Marketing, Garry Wicka, told pv magazine. “What we found that was surprising was that sentiment was actually not down. There’s actually more people – slightly – that are looking at solar than there were before.”
The survey, done as part of a collaboration between LG and The Harris Poll that extends beyond just the focus of solar, found that not only has there been a 13% increase in people who are now considering solar since the onset of Covid-19, but that increase also outweighs the 10% of people whose plans have changed away from solar now.
The trend is extending beyond just base-level consumer interest, as Wicka shares that requests for system quotes have skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic. From March to April, quotes for solar systems rose 44% month-over-month. Traffic is up 50% year-over-year on the solar pages of LG’s website. What’s more is that, since this initial survey and data collection, LG hasn’t seen a slowdown in web traffic, nor quote requests.
“Some weeks, the website traffic is at 100% [increase] year-over-year,” Wicka said. “That’s a pretty good sign. And then, the other piece we use, Energy Sage, has shared the same kind of data. They’re seeing more leads and requests for quotes.”
Turning statistics to sales
The data also found that parents are twice as likely as nonparents (14% vs. 7%) to now be considering solar. Those with a household income of $100k+ annually are most likely to have their consideration swayed by the pandemic toward solar, with 12% now considering, as compared to 7%-8% for other income brackets.
“This made people think about solar a little bit differently,” said Wicka “Yes, saving money is almost always the No. 1 idea, but ensuring that you’ve got continuity at your house – that you’re going to be safe – I think that made people think in some other areas and that’s exciting.”
As for how heightened consumer interest can lead to actual sales, that’s a tougher issue. Wicka shared that LG is working with installers and distributors to geographically determine what areas have the highest interest among those that will be the first to reopen. This will provide an opportunity to capitalize on this wave of high interest, though not until it can be done so safely in each area.
“Each industry is going to have a different recovery curve,” Wicka said. “We’re looking at all of those because that absolutely has repercussions going back to solar. What we do see is that I think there’s a pretty good recovery coming… I think you’re going to see, as that uncertainty starts to wane, people are going to look at solar and say ‘I didn’t like having that feeling of uncertainty when [Covid-19] happened. I want to sure up.'”
It’s that customer that LG sees as the long-term opportunity: the one that wasn’t considering solar prior to the pandemic, that has now been researching and checking into solar as a solution to questions about energy and resiliency.
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