NMBS Conference: Let’s talk about sustainability

Published:  22 June, 2012

SPAIN: Opportunities are there, if you grasp them, according to Chris Ashworth, associate lecturer in marketing at Oxford Brookes University and author of the CIMCIG Taking Sustainability to the Consumer report.

“The Green Deal will provide opportunities for product demand,” Mr Ashworth said. “It will also build new customer relationships and open up communication with consumers.”

The Deal will create a certified to the residential sector and RMI that will exend to the commercial sector, he said.

Opportunities beside the Deal are Feed-in-Tariffs, the Renewable Heat Incentive, BREEAM, Doc L and the Code for Sustainable Homes.

The risks, he pointed out, are that the Green Deal is unlikely to be in pace in October. There may be a lack of take-up by the industry. Consumer ignorance may mean merchants will be called on to provide information. Threats to merchants are represented by retailers and the energy companies.

“The risk is that merchants might become 2nd or 3rd tier suppliers where products may go from manufacturers directly to customers,” he said.

He showed a chart of signatories to the Green Deal and only two were related to the merchanting sector.

The Government views key trigger points for Green Deal implementation from:

  • Home moves.
  • Upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Heating system renewals.
  • Loft conversions or extensions.
  • Couples having children.
  • Children leaving home.
  • Retirement.

The bad news is there is a lack of both knowledge and trust. “People don’t like the idea of having to bring installers or builders in to do the work,” says Mr Ashworth. Then there’s cost, disruption and low confidence in suppliers “The consumer is being asked to manage complex issues with installers with whom they have had infrequent contact, like when they have had a distress purchase.”

If Green Deal is to be sold to the customer, merchants should focus on the benefits – comfort and cost-savings and avoid using terms such as ‘eco’, ‘green’, ‘low carbon’ or ‘sustainability’.

“Be credible, realistic accessible and offer the customer verifiable third-party endorsemenets,” he urged. “Being a generalist is an oportunity. Merchants are a point of advice. Develop partnerships with contractors, integrate your showrooms and develop your customer base and all the products that go with it.”

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