Corporate Social Marketing

This month we looked at how different types of organizations leverage social marketing principles to reduce your home’s energy footprint. Some of the organizations focused on simple actions, like putting on a sweater, or swapping out a light bulb, while others focused on systemic changes upstream.

This week I will be looking at how businesses are leveraging social marketing principles to reduce your energy consumption at home, and what we can expect from businesses in the future.



Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee coined the term “corporate social marketing” (CSM) to describe the application of social marketing to commercial entities pursuing the twin goals of business success and social good. They found that seeking to change behaviour for the public good can go hand in hand with building markets for products or services.  This is especially true when a corporate social marketing campaign loses the mask and is authentic, targeting behaviours that directly relate to one or more the company’s products or services.

Authentic Campaigns:



Check out your energy provider’s website. Do they offer tools, tips and incentives to better manage your electricity consumption? Nowadays, it is commonplace for utility companies to have a page dedicated to educating customers and other stakeholders about responsible energy use, or providing specific incentives and customer tools like rebates and carbon footprint calculators. But how else are businesses using social marketing principles to address large residential energy footprints?

P&G: This isn’t a masquerade party

P&G along with the Alliance to Save Energy developed  a mutually beneficial campaign to encourage people to wash their laundry sustainably by washing at lower temperatures.  Since heating water can account for up to 80% of the energy used per wash load in the U.S., Americans switching to cold water could reduce co2 emissions by up to 11 million metric tons annually. The campaign also showcases P&G’s Tide Coldwater detergent product, which is specially formulated to perform optimally in cold water.

Horizon Utilities Corporation: Target a specific audience

Horizon Utilities Corporation recognized that classic marketing strategies, like direct mail, did not work as well as they should at helping consumers save money and energy. So Horizon relied on GIS technology to develop an energy-density mapping tool that allows the organization to carefully target their marketing efforts to specific groups of consumers and in essence significantly boost participation in energy conservation programs.

Check out the results of the tool here.

Opower: Check out the trendsetters

We all want to fit in, even if that means reusing a hotel towel. At least, that is what a 2010 study found. So, can businesses use social norms to their advantage?

Opower, an energy information software company, leverages the power of a smiley face to address residential energy consumption in the US and the UK. The company mails personalized home energy reports that contain individualized information about a customer’s usage, and an energy-saving grade of that customer relative to neighbours. Two smiley faces is well above average, one smiley face is just above average, and no smiley faces is below average. The comparisons were well received.  In some cases customers wanted to compare their energy use against that of friends and family members in other parts of the country! In the first two years, the Opower program (including all of the partner utilities in the U.S. and in the U.K.) saved more than 690 gigawatt hours.



Corporate Culture’s study suggests that behaviour change campaigns are not going away.  In fact, 94% of organizations believe behaviour change is important in achieving long-term success.  What’s more, we see below,  that there is an emphasis on campaigns that prioritize reducing waste, recycling more, and saving energy.

Organizations Behaviour Change Priorities by Action and Audience

Corporate Culture

Unlike government, or non-profit social marketing campaigns, Corporate Social Marketing is in it’s infancy. So, I suspect that we will see a lot more businesses with energy saving products or services using Corporate Social Marketing in the future.

Post your predictions in the comment section.

  1. What energy saving policy, program, product or service will be the next big thing in social marketing?
  2. What theme are we going to explore in March?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s