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Propane customers’ user experience builds industry image

April 13, 2021 By    
Photo: Bill Oxford/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Advertising the reality that propane offers – cost savings, dependability and clean energy – is in a retailer’s best interest. Photo: Bill Oxford/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Perception is defined as what is seen, and reality is defined as what is actually happening.

The non-user public perception of propane hasn’t changed much over the decades. We don’t need another focus group or mass survey to find out that many consumers who are not current users of propane believe it is an expensive source of energy, subject to outages, and brings with it certain safety concerns. Then throw in the more recent perception of some that propane is another dirty fossil fuel that, along with natural gas, will soon be eliminated from use.

Fortunately, the reality is that the vast majority of current propane users have a much better user experience than what is perceived by non-users. We know that propane is significantly less costly to use than electricity in most parts of the country, therefore having a much higher energy value. Propane is also a dependable and safe on-site source of energy for multiple applications in homes and businesses located anywhere energy is needed.

Even environmentalists will have to agree that propane is almost always a cleaner form of energy than grid-sourced electricity when a source-to-site analysis is done. Propane is often used as a partner with solar and wind energy to boost dependability and moderate the installation cost of renewable energy systems. Also, consider the growing demand and use of renewable propane in this country and around the world. The situational awareness of propane users matches perception with a favorable reality.

Never in the 100-plus years of competing in the energy marketplace has there been a better opportunity to market propane against electricity. Given the recent brownout and blackout events in California and Texas, and other power outages of varying duration in every other part of the country, the dependability of electricity is suffering greatly, and the cost of electricity is rising sharply in most markets. Consumers are finally starting to question the “electrify everything” approach of lawmakers and regulators.

Don’t waste your marketing and advertising dollars on predatory marketing against your fellow propane competitors. When you advertise about your competitors letting customers run out of propane, overcharging and giving poor service in general, you are supporting the poor perceptions of propane from the past, rather than building on the realities of propane today, especially when compared to the failures of electricity.

If some of your propane competitors are supporting perceptions of the past through bad business practices, their customers will find you in order to escape to the propane reality that you should have created and are marketing.

I recently witnessed a regional propane company run a predatory Facebook ad that pointed out that their propane competitors were high-priced and gave undependable service. Of course, that opened the floodgates for unfavorable comments and negative reviews from every dissatisfied customer that this regional marketer ever had.

If you want to generate positive reviews and add new customers, advertise the realities of propane you are creating and supporting, not the perceptions you think consumers have of your competitors. Save the predatory marketing for electricity. You have never had an easier target.

Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He can be reached at or 810-252-7855.

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