Commercializing Sustainable Technologies by Developing Attractive Value Propositions: The Case of Photovoltaic Panels

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Anne-Lorène Vernay of the Univ Grenoble Alpes, Melanie Sohns of MVV Enamic GmbH, Joachim Schleich of the Univ Grenoble Alpes, and Meyer Haggège of the Univ Grenoble Alpes. They recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Commercializing Sustainable Technologies by Developing Attractive Value Propositions: The Case of Photovoltaic Panels,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations and innovations of their research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

Previous research by colleagues René Bohnsack and Jonatan Pinkse showed that reconfiguring the value proposition for disruptive technologies could make these technologies more attractive on the market. In particular, applying a range of tactics that lead to the development of different value propositions may overcome problems of technological immaturity and high upfront costs by. This was very inspiring to us as it shows that R&D is not the only option available to increase the market opportunities of disruptive technologies.

My colleagues and I had been studying the adoption of PV technology for a while and we thought these tactics may be a way to increase the market attractiveness of PVs as well. However, we quickly realised that they, like many other sustainable technologies, PVs face a rather different problem: they are economically attractive, technologically mature and yet they still do not reach the mass market. We thought that some other factors might be relevant: the product and what it represents is not appealing to people. We were curious to find out whether other tactics could be applied to increase the market attractiveness of PVs or other sustainable technologies facing similar barriers.

What would you like practitioners to take away from this research?

Sustainable technologies and services have to reach the mass market to help society tackle environmental problems. However, commercial firms focus too much on technological aspects and use a technical jargon when communicating with their customers. We hope this paper will convince firms that want to commercialize sustainable technologies about the added value of reconfiguring their value proposition. They have to start thinking about ways to simplify the customer journey and to engage customers in order to create positive emotions for these technologies.

Where do you see interesting future avenues for research in this field?

Business models can bridge technologies and the market. Reconfiguring value proposition is a first step to increase the market attractiveness of sustainable technologies. However, to transform the mass market, business model innovation should not be limited to individual firms but should spread among other firms in the industry. An interesting avenue for future research would be to study how and under which conditions business model innovations can become templates for others to imitate.

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