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Commentary Main Feature

What Taylor Swift can teach us about Australia’s energy transition

Australia is officially in the grips of Taylor fever. But as Swift tells us on her latest album Midnights – this is no accident: “I laid the groundwork, and then just like clockwork, the dominoes cascaded in a line… It was all by design.” Taylor mania is the work of a mastermind.

More than 4 million Australians tried to buy a ticket to one of Swift’s concerts. So, what can we learn from Taylor about how to engage Australians in the energy transition? Are you ready for it?

1. Design for your audience.

Taylor is the queen of fostering a connection with her fans. Every social media post, song, and release is carefully designed for her audience and intended to maximise engagement.

From leaving ‘Easter eggs’ (clues) for fans to unravel, to hosting listening parties, everyone is invited to have a seat at the table. These behaviours are encouraged as her management team rewards fans for their participation; creating further incentives to get involved for the long haul.

As we plan our new energy system, it must be designed to include consumers from the outset in a way that will incentivise them to be part of the journey for the next thirty years. The 2022 Integrated System Plan assumes that 65% of homes will have rooftop solar by 2050, most of whom will also have a battery. To achieve this, consumers will need to be motivated to take part and be invested in the system’s success. What might it take to develop the equivalent of a Swiftie army of energy consumers ready and keen to act?

2. There are many ways to get involved

Whether you like Taylor Swift’s earlier country music, her catchy pop songs, or are drawn to her more recent indie folk albums, there’s something for everyone. By having so many “eras” and genres of music, there are multiple ways fans can connect as there are so many possible points of identification.

Likewise, we need to demonstrate that there is not just one way to engage with the energy transition. Consumers need to see a version of themselves participating in the transition in a variety of ways that are meaningful to them, so they can imagine themselves taking part. This means we need to design for those who are change ready; as well as people who might be uncertain or insecure about the future.

We need renters, landlords, First Nations communities, small businesses, CALD communities, homeowners and more to see a pathway and a role for themselves to play in the transition. Watch a panel discussion at our recent Foresighting Forum for more insights about how to achieve this.

3. Embrace unlikely partnerships

Taylor’s latest beau is the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. This new relationship has seen a surge in popularity of the NFL, to the joy of fathers and boyfriends across the US. It’s estimated that Swift has generated an additional USD$330 million for the Chiefs and NFL. Taylor has been the key to unlocking a whole new audience for the NFL.

Who might be key to reaching new audiences that are typically harder to engage in the transition? Who do they trust, and what are the avenues through which they hear trusted voices? Our recent household energy consumer information research provides some key insights.

If we take some of Taylor’s wisdom and apply it to Australia’s energy transition, we might just be entering the consumer “era”.

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