Communicating Higher Utility Prices

Using neuroscience to persuade consumers that higher prices are necessary

The Problem

How do you influence customers’ attitudes toward an increase in utility rates? This is the question our client, Scott Clark, faced when he advised a large utility company serving almost 500,000 customers. The public utilities commission approved a price hike so the company could improve its infrastructure, and Clark was tasked with developing a communication plan to convey the value of these improvements to customers. Clark used the Immersion Neuroscience platform to optimize messaging before it was released.

The Study

Clark’s team created 90-second videos in order to test possible communications strategies for why the price hike was needed. Some of the videos presented examples of maintenance improvements, reliable service, and 24/7 customer support. Another set of videos showed how the utility company supports first responders, small businesses, and local communities. The communication plan included video placement on their website as well as earned media through regional online targeting. Immersion data were collected for nine videos watched by 28 participants from the utility’s service area.

Results

Combining neurologic immersion with traditional self-reported data, the utility company identified which videos most effectively communicated the reasons for the price increase. The data showed that a video featuring the company’s lab facilities had the lowest immersion among the tested videos, indicating it poorly communicated the utility’s message. It was removed from consideration for release. Another video featured a small business, which produced an average self-reported score but very high immersion in women. Clark’s team used this information to edit the video to emphasize female small business owners. Clark’s expertise using the Immersion Neuroscience platform saved the utility company money by removing low immersion videos prior to release and by improving message impact for the videos that would be used. The science enabled the utility company to effectively communicate the reasons for the price hike by showing the value it created for consumers.

Key Take-Aways:

1. Measuring immersion during the creative process saves companies money byrejecting low immersion content and by improving the immersion of content that will be used.
2. The neuroscience of immersion allows companies to target and tailor content based on brain activity. Since it is brains that respond to messages, the most effective targeting must measure brain activity.
3. Companies only have one chance to communicate difficult information like price hikes. Measuring immersion reduces the risk that consumers will misunderstand issues and increases the likelihood that they will show support for the company.

For more information, contact: Scott Clark (swclark1@gmail.com) or info@immersionneuro.com

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