Harmony Labs

#Climate

Winning Decarbonization By Making Stuff Cooler—Then the Planet

Electrification, especially consumer electrification of home-related things like stoves, heating systems, and cars, is key to swift, comprehensive decarbonization. But, policy incentives alone cannot create the conversion to electrics.

We’ll also need consumer demand and right now, we know “going electric” isn’t a thing most people think about. Rewiring America and other residential electrification advocates are focused on creating this demand by connecting electric products to the stories we tell about how these products work for us.

Harmony Labs partnered with Rewiring America to study how people learn and talk about the appliances and vehicles they have now and those that they plan to buy in the future. We used search and social media consumption to understand how our values-based audiences consumed these stories (you can read more about the method in the Appendix), and here are the highlights of what we found:

People searching to convert to electrics are a base for climate change messages specifically.

Some searches demonstrated an interest in purchase of electrics like solar panels, heat pumps, and induction stoves. Although interest appeared in several places, the biggest zone of over-index on those ready-to-buy searches is closest to the “We” anchor of the x-axis.

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These are people who hold communalist values and care about helping. In addition, one sub-value for the People Power audience, in the upper left quadrant, is care for Earth, so, by definition, this is a base audience for climate care, a narrative we saw in the YouTube data that centered climate as a major driver of consumer decision-making.

The most appliance-engaged audience prioritizes purity and repairability, not climate.

Most interest in vehicles and appliances, including purchase interest in conventionally-fueled options, resides in a very different audience zone near the bottom of the map. Audiences here are conservative by definition, because they like to conserve or preserve things, not because they are politically conservative . . . although they often are.

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These “lifestyle conservatives” are a critical audience for electrification simply because they own a lot of vehicles and appliances. People who live in rural areas and people who own their own homes (both good descriptions of the audience in this zone) have the greatest need for these kinds of products.

Identifying the three distinct audience zones and narratives

Across more than 3,000 YouTube videos like How to Do Common Electric Bike Maintenance and Tesla Solar Roof Review: Was it Worth It?, that appealed to distinct audience zones, we identified three distinct narratives:

  1. Climate Care. Advocating for energy efficiency and built environment upgrades brings together concern for the earth and its climate, with tech-forward fascinations.

  2. Feature Forward. Where cool is bleeding-edge tech, a “comfortable” ride, and scheming to get it cheap, no strings attached, with plenty of product reviews, how stuff functions, and some fantasy.

  3. Clean Keeping. Maintenance and right to repair feature alongside how-to’s for keeping home and hearth under control, safe, pure, and clean from all kinds of threats and contaminants.

Feature Forward videos appealed to the autonomy-loving, but more younger, more urban, less appliance-engaged If You Say So. Clean Keeping stories appealed to that critical audience of lifestyle conservatives who search for appliances and vehicles and watch videos about how to maintain them.

What’s Next?

Rewiring America is committed to advancing their mission through strategic initiatives and action, and below are the specific next steps they plan to take with the findings from this work:

  • Learn more about the way audiences engage with these three narratives in different parts of the country.
  • Develop content in alignment with these narratives and serve them to the audiences most interested in it.
  • Experiment with influencers who make content in these niches to talk about electrification.

To learn more and to see some of the YouTube videos we analyzed, download the full report.

 


 

About Rewiring America

Rewiring America is the leading electrification nonprofit, focused on electrifying our homes, businesses, and communities. They develop accessible, actionable data and tools, and build coalitions and partnerships to make going electric easier for households and communities. Rewiring America helps Americans save money, tackle nationwide emissions goals, improve health, and build the next generation of the clean energy workforce.

 


 

Appendix: Methods

Our analysis of the market and the audience themes used real media consumption data from panels of people who share their click-by-click consumption with media measurement companies.

To assign audience groups (e.g., People Power) to the search events and YouTube encounters, we conducted more than 10,000 survey interviews with adults in the United State and created predictive models of values audience membership based on age, gender, race, education, income, and geography that we use to classify members of the panels.

We used these keywords to identify electrification-relevant appliance and vehicle searches and YouTube transcript mentions.

‎Rewiring Blog.‎003.png

To collect the search data, we filtered all search queries conducted January 1, 2023 - November 30, 2023 (the most recent data available at the time) to include just those associated with a specific click-through destination. There were 61,171 searches conducted with keywords related to the appliances and products of interest to Rewiring America. These searches were conducted by 21,134 distinct individuals, and all the results here are weighted to be representative of the US adult population.

To analyze the YouTube consumption for story elements attractive to different audiences, we used 25,268 snippets from 3,276 videos consumed by panelists between October 1, 2023 - November 30, 2023. We excluded music, gaming, and sports videos and included vlogs, comedy, how-to, education, science, and nonprofit. All these snippets mentioned one of our appliance, vehicle, or electrification keywords.

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