Boosting sales of electric vehicles


Client: Sierra Club

What sales messages and public advocacy options are most likely to stimulate consumer and commercial demand for electric vehicles?


We took an in-depth look at the U.S. electric vehicle (“EV”) market and the surrounding policy landscape to estimate the potential impact of various communications and public policy/program options on EV sales.

Our insights were based on a comprehensive review of recent research and interviews with dozens of industry experts, academics, advocates, electric utilities, car makers, policy makers, car buyers, and other stakeholders.  Our recommendations reflected lessons from behavioral economics, the social science of influence and decision making, and our expertise in behavior change.

We identified messages and policies most likely to increase EV sales, and estimated their impact on the marketplace.

Our findings helped drive one of Sierra Club’s 2015-2020 strategic priorities: EV advocacy. Our final report continues to inform Sierra Club campaigns, public policy positions, and communications.

Persuading fleet managers to buy hybrid trucks


Client: Environmental Defense Fund

How do we convince corporate fleet managers to buy hybrid trucks?


  • We quantified the economic benefits of hybrids, including estimates of fuel savings, vehicle maintenance costs, tax incentives, and other factors
  • Nevertheless, fleet managers had concerns about the hidden costs of hybrids vs. gas or diesel vehicles
  • We broke the logjam by identifying hidden benefits. Specifically, we gathered, curated, and shared information about the confusing assortment of national, regional, state and local incentive funding available to fleets. Unbeknownst to fleet managers, hybrid trucks were often eligible for more than one incentive program, which brought down their cost substantially
  • By clearing up the confusion around incentive funding — and helping fleets access the incentives for which they were qualified– we created a more powerful business case for the purchase of hybrid trucks


A number of corporations, including AT&T, Xcel Energy, Ferguson Enterprises, and Northeast Utilities now operate hybrid trucks as a result of our work.

How can US consumers be persuaded to buy more energy-efficient water heaters?


Client: U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

Could expensive hot water heaters that use energy-efficient heat pump technology – popular overseas – be successfully marketed to US consumers?


  • Reviewed all available research on heat pump water heater technology, economics, and consumer attitudes, and conducted extensive interviews with manufacturers, utilities, and energy efficiency organizations.
  • Assessed the economic feasibility of reintroducing heat pump water heaters to US markets, identified the most promising regional markets, ascertained local utility interest in providing rebate incentives and retailer interest in stocking products.
  • Offered policy recommendations for federal action to catalyze the market

US EPA ENERGY STAR program was able to focus its efforts to promote heat pump water heater technology in regional markets where it could flourish, avoiding a more costly and less effective national approach.

Convincing consumer electronics makers to design more energy-efficient products


Client: U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program

How do we persuade consumer electronics makers to design more energy-efficient products?


  • Helped to plan, launch, and support an ENERGY STAR initiative whose goal was to reduce the energy consumed by consumer electronics.  Focused the effort on encouraging manufacturers to use more energy efficient “switch-mode” power supplies.
  • Developed and presented economic and environmental “business cases” to consumer electronics executives.
  • Assisted consumer electronics manufacturers in sourcing more energy-efficient components.
  • Garnered positive publicity for the efforts of cooperating manufacturers.
  • Raised awareness among consumers by working with print and online media companies to develop consumer-interest stories.

Our collaborations with Samsung, Motorola, Proctor & Gamble, D-link, Staples, and others helped bring about the widespread adoption of more efficient “switch-mode” power supplies in electronic products, despite their higher cost. Most small consumer electronics products on the market today use energy-saving power supplies.

How can we encourage employees to share expertise with their colleagues?


Client: The Pew Charitable Trusts

How do we more effectively share knowledge about the types of charitable grant programs that achieve measurable results?


  • As one of the largest charitable foundations in the U.S., Pew makes thousands of grants to nonprofit organizations each year.  Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to measure the effectiveness of these grant programs.
  • We developed recommendations to help their grant makers more effectively share information about which types of grant programs work, and which ones don’t.
  • The resulting in-house knowledge management “department” helps grant makers better collect, catalogue, access, and utilize information about grant program effectiveness.
  • Because it’s easier for grant makers to share what they know, the organization is better able to exploit its deep expertise in strategic philanthropy.

Thousands of nonprofit grant recipients have boosted their results by adopting strategies and tactics that have proven effective in advancing various social goals.