LEVERAGING DATA TO OVERCOME THE GREAT OPE DIVIDE
You use batteries a lot. Just think about your typical day-to-day—now think about how many of the critical steps in that day are fueled by lithium-powered batteries. It’s your smart phone, your power tools, your car, potentially.
But the seemingly-arbitrary line in the sand? For landscapers and DIYers it seems to be battery-powered outdoor power equipment (OPE).
The Battery vs. Gas Debate
We at the Farnsworth Group recently released a study developed for the Outdoor Power Equipment Association (OPEA), drilling down on DIY and landscaper preferences and preconceived notions. While the responses were diverse, one common hurdle is clear: the barriers to adoption and, even, consideration for battery is perceived performance, or lack there of. Among those who recently purchased gas-powered or corded OPEs, less than one in five seriously considered going battery-powered.
However, over half of homeowners say they’d opt for battery over gas if all specs, performance and price factors were identical.
The Power of Performance
So why the divide? And why, despite being comfortable with lithium batteries in virtually all other aspects of work and life, are so many OPEs buyers hedging their bets? The discomfort, it seems, boils down to confidence the technology will deliver the standards with which they have become accustomed…gas.
Maybe consumers like the idea of electric but don’t know if it’s just a fun new toy or if, in reality, this shift can drive meaningful convenience while still delivering critical performance.
According to the our study, the majority of homeowners still believe gas OPEs outperform their battery-powered counterparts on nearly every aspect. Seventy-six percent (76%) have concerns about the length of an OPE’s battery charge, while half are worried about the equipment’s overall power. And, whether it’s cars or OPE, performance, quality and length of charge are king. We can talk about how easy and how aesthetically superior electric OPE are, and we lean on the burgeoning millennial population to (hopefully) opt for innovation first. But, in reality, that’s not enough.
Leveling the Playing Field
Your job ? Help consumers connect with the right choice for their unique needs. And, in this market, that means not just selling them on the merits of battery-powered but, also, deconstructing these innate biases.
They’re concerned the unknown newcomer is riddled with problems, and won’t be able to withstand the lengthy run times needed to get the job done. Run time is even more critical for landscapers. Do they need several extra batteries, where do they charge dead batteries, will their dealer support battery powered equipment? Down time for landscapers is lost revenue, and gas, today, means more reliable up-time.
You’ve got to shake the tree — but you’ve got to do it without completely unnerving a customer. And that can be a real balancing act. You’ve also got to do it without falling into hype overdrive. Like any new technology or innovation, there’s a lot of hype surrounding battery-powered OPEs — and it’s hype customers are aware of and try their best to be immune to.
Shifting the Conversation around OPE’s: Inspire & Elevate The Experience
The goal, then? Deliver on the consumers usage requirements and if battery-powered OPE fits a customer’s usage requirements, move the conversation from newness to established benefits, offering up tips, tricks and must-tries to maximize their battery experiences. Product specs, standards, ratings, reviews, demos—it all helps fuel the purchase journey and give battery-powered OPEs a steadier footing in this competitive industry. Don’t just tell them the performance is the same, show them with social proof, case studies and other first-hand intel. Tout the features, then bring them to life.
For DIYers this may mean demonstrating the portability of battery powered OPE over gas, or the convenience of start-up. For Landscapers this may be promoting features more important to pros than DIYers…quietness, ability to use indoors. However, you must also bring confidence to landscapers that their long work days will not be disrupted by using battery, and they can continue to rely on their servicer network for support.
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