Guido Stein (Vattenfall): ‘Sustainable mission is one of the long term’

Stein starts with an interesting paradox: “Research shows that about 85% of the Dutch think the climate is important, but about 90% of them think that it is mainly a task of the energy suppliers, industry or government. Only 65% ​​think that own action is a good first step. It becomes even more interesting when you look at when people switch energy suppliers: that mainly happens on the basis of price. “

Stand on it, as an energy supplier with sustainable intentions. Stein knows all about it. In the run-up to the PIM talk show, he shares a number of principles with which Vattenfall reaches its (future) customers and convinces them of its sustainable mission.

1. Connect with the perspective of the consumer

As a company, you cannot change the fact that many people do not feel called upon themselves to realize their major sustainability ambitions. So Vattenfall is responding, he says. “Our message is: we are big and we invest in sustainable energy for you, for your future and for that of your children. In addition, we address a personal interest in the short term: saving energy also means saving money. We can vary this, so that every customer gets the best suitable message. “

2. Start with big, visible performance

Especially as an established brand you have to deal with suspicion. For newcomers built entirely on a sustainable basis, it is easier to gain confidence than for a major energy giant that carries a hefty fossil legacy with it. “We don’t say” within a generation “for nothing,” explains Stein. “This shows that there is a long transition phase. To gain trust, you really have to mean it and start with yourself, both towards employees and customers. And you have to show that. For us it starts in Sweden; our shareholder is the Swedish government and there too is a commitment to the Paris objectives. In Sweden, for example, Vattenfall is working with the steel and cement industries to make the energy for their production fossil-free. This way you take big steps and show that you are serious. This provides a platform for communicating your purpose to the outside world. In the Netherlands, such major developments are also at the basis of Vattenfall’s success. For example, here we are building the largest offshore wind farm in the world and we have closed our last coal-fired power station, the Hemweg, early. Such big steps make the intentions visible and credible. “

3. Let people also do something themselves

The energy transition is in fact a system change and unfortunately such large processes do not go fast. That is why it is important to offer consumers a perspective for action in the short term. An example of this is an LED lamp campaign with which 400,000 energy-efficient lamps found their way to the consumer. “Indeed,” admits Stein, “compared to a wind farm, that is nothing, but it is very tangible to people and it also increases their awareness and sense of responsibility. You have to do both: it is and / and. After the LED lamp comes the next step and that is how we ultimately want all our customers on the way to a fossil-free life. “

4. Link purpose to profit

Many marketers who are involved in sustainability wonder: how do we convince the board of the need to take this seriously? Stein: “If you still have to convince your board of a sustainability mission, it is a lost cause. I see the role of the marketer more as the one who shows how it can be realized. There is still often the idea that sustainability and profit are at odds with each other. That is not true. There are indeed solid revenue models, sustainability can even make a good contribution to EBIT. At Vattenfall, we now refer to our B2C marketing strategy as the “purpose & profit strategy”. That’s not just a term; we do what we promise and we earn from it. Customers grant you that. ”

5. Tell the real story (no matter how difficult it is made for you)

The energy transition can best be classified as one wicked problem: there are many interdependencies and nothing is unambiguous. Just look at the concept of green electricity – that is not one uniform thing, there is indeed a difference between electricity generated from wind, sun or biomass, and even within biomass there are big differences. And do we actually generate enough green electricity for everyone? Stein: “There are so many different parties who communicate about this theme and regularly contradict each other, nobody can make sense of that anymore. In campaigns it is often simply beaten flat: “You want green electricity, don’t you? We sell that, now very cheaply. ” But it’s not that simple, because in that case nobody knows where that green electricity comes from. “

Stein continues: “What’s more important: sell as much green electricity as possible? Or generate as sustainably as possible as much as possible? The energy transition may end with the delivery, but it starts with the investment in the sustainable generation of green electricity, where the real impact takes place. We want to tell that story. But that is not so easy in the current market and we certainly cannot do it alone. That is why we are looking for partners and coalitions to create good examples together and put them in the spotlight. We have to work very hard on it and it will probably take years for the message to really land, but that is what makes the work so interesting. “

On October 26, Stein will be a guest in the online PIM talk show, alongside Joris van Zoelen from the Synergie agency and Huib van Bockel from the natural energy drink Tenzing. You can ask questions to all guests yourself via chat. Click here for more information and communication.


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