Energy Efficiency Marketing and Calculated Consumption

This past Sunday's New York Times brought us an insightful report about the new consumer by Stephanie Rosenbloom on the cover of the Business section, "But Will It Make You Happy" ( The article has a lot to say about how consumer attitudes are shifting and I think the implications for energy efficiency marketers are significant.

One Portland, Ore. downshifter, Tammy Strobel, says “The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false. I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

One trend cited in the article is the shift toward calculated consumption from conspicuous consumption. People are saving more money and are being more thoughtful about how they spend it.

And if people are saving more money, putting it aside for retirement and a rainy day, my bet is they're also looking for even more ways to save money. Which brings us to energy efficiency investments. Most investments in energy efficiency are replacement items (light bulbs, appliances, windows, insulation) that don't clutter people's lives but generally make them feel good. Something Ms. Stobel might appreciate.

How do you think the trend toward calculated consumption might impact your energy efficiency marketing program?