So you thought going solar was for those companies keen on cutting energy costs.
You are right, and wrong.
Sure, go solar to get security for your energy bills for the foreseeable future – 25 years to be precise.
But there is another important reason to go solar – and that is to differentiate yourself from your competitors, and to show to your clients and customers that your business stands for sustainability and responsibility.
Am I saying that those silly solar panels on your rooftop could set you apart as a responsible enterprise and make your brand stronger?
Yes, I do precisely mean that.
Let me ask you a question: What % of industrial or commercial rooftop buildings in India do you think have solar panels today?
Be a sport, make a guess.
- 5%? You think that is too high?
- 1%? Or 0.5% will be closer to reality perhaps?
- None of the above
In India, of the 15 million small, medium or large businesses (not including micro enterprises), it is estimated that there are about 1 million (10 lac) commercial and industrial establishments with rooftop space of at least 500 sq.mtr.
As per Solar Mango estimates, there are fewer than 1,000 industrial or commercial establishments today having solar on their rooftops.
Thus, less than 0.1% of the commercial rooftops in India today have a solar power system.
That means less than 1 in 1,000 company rooftops have solar in them.
Let’s say your company has 20 competitors. Unless your competitors are much above national average, or you are plain unlucky, it is possible that none of your competitors have a rooftop solar system.
And your having one can make a big difference to your business.
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How could a bunch of solar panels on your rooftop get you extra business?
It does, because the business world today, especially the high quality customers – be it business customer or end user – is today looking for companies that are responsible.
And getting power from a green source such as solar, located right on your building, is a great way to show to your clients and audience that you are keen on investing in sustainability.
You might be excused for thinking that the Indian consumer is not really bothered about responsibility and sustainability. After all, are we not supposed to be a country whose top 3 parameters for product purchase are price, price and price?
But the reality is different, and that shows that we are a country that is changing, and changing fast. Surveys done between 2011 and 2013 show that the Indian consumer is actually in line with global trends in expectations of sustainability from products and companies.
And if you are an exporter, selling goods or services to the developed countries, your company being perceived as sustainable and responsible might not just be a bonus, it might be an imperative to do business with them.
Solar panels are a great way to show you are a sustainable business. Why?
- They are visible! Yes, you might be spending crores on CSR, but how will your customers know about this? On the other hand, it will be a cinch for you to show the solar panels on your rooftop to your visiting customers and prospects
- Solar panels give you free marketing and branding. When I visit companies during my consulting assignment, if I see solar panels on their rooftops I talk about them and write about them, because one, I am impressed, and two, there are not too many such companies right now. They make a nice story, these solar panels.
- One of the companies I visited did more than just have panels. The Vice President took me around to show the meter readings and analytics from his solar power system and explained how the whole thing worked for his company and reduced its dependence on grid. The whole process took hardly 15 minutes, but what he had done was what no amount of marketing money could have – given me an impression that this company truly cared about how the company impacted the environment.
There could be more ways through which solar could be used effectively as a differentiator for your business.
Some might ask if such marketing of solar power systems amounts to over-commercialisation of something that is done for the environment.
|My answer would be: Business is marketing. And if you benefit from marketing the fact that your business has done a good deed, in my opinion this is a benefit you fully deserve.|