A competition asking New York University (NYU) students to create a campaign promoting pre-paid energy to the Millennial Generation yielded a big party.
The winning students called for an event promoting pre-paid energy, a call to turn out the lights during the party, and lots of social media with messages intended to spur the Millennial Generation’s (18- to 30-year-olds) desire to improve the world.
DEFG, a management consulting firm specializing in energy, partnered with students from different colleges at NYU to create the competition. The project took place in a class offered within the Gallatin School, a small, experimental college within NYU that attracts students who think “outside the box” and pursue an inter-disciplinary approach to their education.
Pre-paid energy is a “megatrend,” that yields substantial savings, says Jamie Wimberly, CEO of DEFG. It’s perfect for the Millennial Generation because these people are concerned about money, want to improve the world, and like to buy cards that pre-pay for services. In fact, about 51% of them use pre-paid cards for various services.
Pre-paid energy can cut energy bills by 10% to 15%, says Wimberly. That’s because their users can get hourly, daily or weekly updates—via email, texts or phone calls—about how much energy they’re using and how much they have left on their card.
“With pre-paid energy, they’re more aware of energy. It’s more relevant. They can do something about it on a daily basis,” he says. Pre-paid energy is also “incremental, mobile and fun,” he says. “The most important thing in energy is engaging people in ways that are fun.”
The winning entry, “Light The Night: Prepaid Energy for A More Affordable and Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle,” proposed “partnering with local businesses to host a night out to raise energy awareness and promote the option of pre-paid energy.” Consumers would be asked to join the movement and turn out their lights for a night, and celebrate the occasion with special events at local businesses.
Ads for the event included messages like “dining in the dark,” and “eat for change.”
“One of the things that really struck me: The students almost made this into a movement. ‘I will bring together my peers via social media and we’re going to demand this.’ It was very activist,” says Wimberly. “The winning entry was so out of the realm of what my clients thought they wanted. It was almost like a rave.” His clients included metering companies, utilities, and pre-pay companies.
Utilities, marketing firms and other organization interested in convincing Millennials to save energy can learn from this competition. Perhaps it’s time to rip up those bill stuffers and opt instead for a lights-out party. And don’t forget to make it incremental, mobile—and fun.