Earlier this year, NRECA and Touchstone Energy launched youth-focused communication tools to engage consumer-members ages 25 to 45. NRECA’s hosting a webinar about the research on July 31. In case you can’t make it, we reviewed the research and have five tips to reach younger public utility consumers.
A common challenge utilities face is explaining the public power business model to consumers. Studies show consumers who grasp the local connection are more satisfied with their service.
“The fact that co-ops are local, community-focused organizations is what this age group values most about them,” explains NRECA’s focus group report (NRECA members only). Make your cooperative’s mission part of your messaging. Chances are it already aligns with what your young consumers value.
Action: Host a pizza party at your utility. Electric co-ops can share the seven cooperative principles with attendees. Public utility districts and municipal utilities can share how locally-owned power makes us More Powerful Together.
Many young adult consumers are familiar with apps or programs that digitally measure involvement by tracking achievements or points that can be redeemed for rewards. The same concept can be applied to your utility. Orcas Power & Light Co-op, Washington, leveraged technology by offering a $3 bill credit for new members who completed an online tutorial to familiarize themselves with online bill pay, outage maps and more.
Action: Reward consumers with bill credits or gift cards to a local coffee shop for hitting energy-saving milestones or efficiency efforts.
A common theme of young engagement is meeting consumers where they already spend time. That includes digital platforms, and is why a well-organized, mobile-optimized website with online bill pay is necessary.
According to key findings from Touchstone Energy’s National Survey of the Cooperative Difference (Touchstone Energy members only), one-third of younger members visited their cooperative’s website more than 10 times a year, primarily to pay their bill.
Action: Audit your website to ensure consumers needs are being met, including mobile-optimization and online bill pay. (If you need help, we’ve got you covered!)
Research shows millennials are drawn to local organizations, and public power utilities conveniently fit that approach. According to NRECA’s focus group report, “more family-friendly activities offered by the cooperative would increase engagement.”
Participating in local events demonstrates your utilities’ commitment to community.
Action: Bring your community together by organizing events like outdoor movie screenings or concerts in the park. Wells Rural Electric Co., Nevada, held community pep rallies celebrating youth at four high schools in their service area.
In addition to having an accessible website, meet consumer-members online by engaging with them on social media. According to Touchstone Energy’s national survey (Touchstone Energy members only), more than 90 percent of electric co-op consumer-members own a smartphone and spend an average of 45 minutes a day on social media.
Engage young consumers by maintaining an active presence across your social media channels. NRECA’s focus group found consumer-members value “the opportunity to provide feedback and wants to see visible evidence that the cooperative is listening.” Social media is the easiest way for young voices in your community to be heard.
Action: Start the conversation by hosting a photo contest on social media. Offer bill credits or gift cards as prizes and announce winners in your newsletter or monthly magazine.
What Works for You?
Reaching young consumers is a common public power goal. Share how you are tackling this challenge in the comments below as we work to become More Powerful Together.