March 2015 How to approach the Solar PV market in South Africa

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The figures or graph above represents the following: From 1 Jan 2015 to 25 Feb 2015 (approx 60 days) engaged in various marketing initiatives to drive organisations and individuals to the pq website. Approximately 9764 contacts based nationally formed part of the marketing initiatives and represented a broad spectrum of occupations and contacts including engineers, architects, electrical and plumbing contractors.This post is intended to provide some guidelines on marketing initiatives and the response from industry on solar related information. Naturally there will be a host of arguments and questions not addressed in this post as I prefer not writing a complete study / report but rather highlighting a few interesting facts that may or may not be relevant to the growth of your organisation from a S.A. solar perspective, but would still be relevant on the energy sector and the differentiating factors in communicating with the various tiers or groups within the energy sector.

Data on web and social response was obtained from Google analytics. Where the figures are compared with the way in which people are responding to solar marketing initiatives, it could be said that Gauteng is ahead of the Western Cape in response by about 60-24=36%; right?. However, the Western Cape is home to 5,8 million people and Gauteng 12,2 million people according to the 2011 census, Effectively a little more than double the number of people in Gauteng when compared to those living in the Western Cape. Although it may seem as if Gauteng is leading in demand and response, it could be that the province is only leading as a result of the volume of people residing in the province. In short, the response from the two metros are on par with one another; which would echo the need for information from consumers and organisations who have an interest in the energy sector regardless of where they are based.

Existing solar suppliers are experiencing a type of “feeding frenzy” on solar enquiries. This sudden rush of demand as a result of the re-instated blackouts have left consumers (both residential and commercial) scrambling to find answers for an affordable renewable and sustainable power solution to ensure the long term viability of their businesses. So whether you are a contractor only starting-out with solar PV installations or you are an established organisation, you need to know where the demand is and what the response would be on the way in which capital is being invested into marketing initiatives aimed at attracting a new solar PV client base.

When looking at provinces such as North west, Free state, Limpopo and the Northern Cape, it is evident that very few (1%) people have actually responded to the initiatives. Population density in these provinces are significantly different to that of the large metros; but this may not be the reason for the poor response. People in these areas may use different means of communicating and sharing information.

The way in which different sectors respond and communicate with one another, in turn should impact the strategy of the organisations interested in attracting viable leads in the energy sector. If your organisation wishes to attract the market segment for PV systems <20kW, the strategy and approach to that segment would be different to attracting new clients in the 40-100kW Tier for example. Identifying contractors who can do the work within those different sectors call for yet another approach. What an exciting & vibrant industry to be involved with and part of. The PV industry is one of the fastest growing industries locally.

Define the sector of interest i.e, is your target market the end consumer, engineers, architects, agricultural, domestic, commercial or industrial. Each sector should have its own approach, strategy and route to market. Become a part of the sector but ensure that the decisions taken on growth into the sector is based on factual and realistic data.

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