Tracking energy use the smart way, the story of Mysa

February 9, 2021
Matthew Sourgoutsidis
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Tracking energy use the smart way

In 2014, energy waste and consumption in North America was on a troubling upward trend. 

Combating energy waste became a massive movement that saw large players like Nest, Ecobee, and Google enter the fray. Competition increased as brands piggy-backed on the surge in demand for smart thermostats.

Consider this: 60% of home energy use goes to heating in North American households. So you can imagine how many consumers need a way to track usage and reduce waste. 

The problem? 

There were no smart thermostat options available for baseboard/electric heating, which was used by large amounts of North American households … until Mysa. 

Mysa began with a simple solar heater made out of a recycled pop can. An invention that transformed into a complex mission. Guide the world to become more sustainable with energy conservation and efficiency.

Flash forward to today, and Mysa Smart Thermostats are more in demand than ever.  Energy use and costs are increasing across North America. So consumers are looking for ways to cut back and save money.

Fresh off their launch into Best Buy’s across Canada, we spoke with Amy Fisher, Head of Marketing at Mysa to learn more about how influencer marketing was pivotal to their success.

Energy consumption is a problem

North Americans use a lot of kilowatts.

In 2010, the average North American household used two to three times the amount to a European home. That’s 4,500 kWh burned per year or 6x more than the global average per capita. In 2020 the numbers only got worse. The average North American home used an average of around 11,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

North Americans waste a lot of energy too. In 2013, the global estimate for electricity wasted was 400 terawatt-hours per year. That’s only network-enabled devices, not counting energy lost in heating or electricity.

The Mysa Smart Thermostat had business being around. Programmable thermostats are used by 47% of households in 2011, up from 36% in 2007. Several governments implemented rebates for the sale of Smart thermostats.

Brick and Mortar partnership x Best Buy

In January of 2020, Mysa began talks with several different retailers. From Canadian Tire to Costco, brands were lining up for a chance to stock the product. After much deliberation, the Mysa Team chose to partner with Best Buy for a few reasons. 

For one, Best Buy is huge on Smart Home Ecosystems. They pride themselves on being tech-first and had a strong desire to work with the Mysa team. In the end, the affiliation with Best Buy as a retailer was a natural fit.

The team at Mysa values the experience of customers wanting to go and see a product in person. Brick and mortar will always be important, especially for an organization looking to build lifelong brand equity and trust.

There is a different feeling when you experience something with your senses. A feeling that’s impossible to replicate through e-commerce. Amy from Mysa says,

“Getting that affiliation with a big brand like Best Buy. It increases customer trust that you're no longer a small startup. You are a legit, big company that customers can trust because these big brands are trusting to work with us.” 

Influencer Marketing x Brick and Mortar

A unique product requires a unique approach.

Mysa increases brand awareness in their target markets in a few different ways. They have to be strategic about the positioning of their product. The Mysa Smart Thermostat is a little bit different than the average Ecobee or Nest product. 

The Google Nest works with a low voltage heating system (65% of North American homes run this system). In contrast, the Mysa is a smart thermostat designed to work with a high line/voltage heating system.

“We had to be careful because only certain provinces and certain states are big on electric usage. British Columbia, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces, and the States, Washington, New York, Colorado. We had to ensure that we're building brand awareness in those markets."

When the team brought this notion to Best Buy, they grasped strategy immediately. Best Buy stocked Mysa Home Thermostats in 60 targeted stores across North America.

The stores? Chosen based on the regions that run the most electric heat. Areas guaranteed to have prospective Mysa customers.

It was a big moment for the team. Mysa created a new page telling their customers where they could find their product. And the rest was history. The Mysa thermostats sold out immediately in-store at Best Buy. This forced the retailer to get more inventory for their stores.

“We now say, you can find us in these retail locations. It's ensuring that you're continuing to build your brand awareness. Because we can't rely on a retailer to do that for us. We need to make sure that when they put products on the shelves, that they fly off.” 

Testing in Quebec x Implementing influencer marketing

It’s often said that marketing in Quebec is like marketing internationally. It’s not only the language. There are cultural differences and challenges presented in the unique province. Even more so than display ads, influencer marketing is everything in Quebec. People rely on word of mouth and recommendations of trusted connections over anything.

When Amy took the job at Mysa earlier this year, the first mission was to develop a new brand strategy. It included a focus on three main pillars: energy savings, environment, and aesthetic. Mysa launched an influencer marketing campaign focused on the product’s good looks. 

For Mysa, this is offered a perfect avenue for growth and testing.

“If we were going to invest in Quebec, we need to build a team of people who can help us market there. So before we wanted to do that, we needed to run a test.”

Mysa ran a test with a set of Quebec influencers to see how targeted content performed. They wanted to assess the interest in the product and if their French content worked.

“We were able to say okay, there’s something to this. Let's dig deeper. Let's hire more resources. Let's invest in this...It was proving the market for us.”

Usually, in the summer, Mysa sales would go down. But working with influencers and developing content, they flipped the switch. The team targeted interior designers and the millions at home due to the pandemic. In turn, Mysa increased sales with women by 50%.

This was the first time the team targeted women. A move that broke the stereotype that tech should be marketed to a male demographic. In Quebec, the team realized how impactful aesthetic is for their marketing efforts.

Beauty, style, and class is a pillar that resonated with this targeted audience.

Another challenge for the company was the realization that they had to go bilingual. Quebec is a massive market for electricity. So Mysa had to make sure its content was accurate. Culturally relevant content can't go through Google Translate. 

The Mysa team knew this novel set of content had to be incorporated into their workflow. If they had a campaign launching, they needed their assets ready a week or two earlier. The translations took more time, but they were worth it.

Influencer content driving up Google search results

What were the impacts of influencer marketing in Quebec?

Mysa's organic search traffic goes up exponentially for two weeks after each campaign. Any time a creator posted or whitelisted content, the Mysa team saw amazing results.

Mysa also learned Quebec is a unique place for Influencers. It's rare to see most of one's audiences living within the same region they are operating out of. It’s a perfect testing ground for selling products within Quebec.

If the team used an influencer in D.C., they are more likely to have followings spread across North America. Marketing efforts may produce massive exposure, but not to the right consumer. This tactic spreads marketing efforts thin. They were wasting exposure on an audience that won't buy the product. 

Sure enough, with targeting marketing, their efforts drove results within Quebec. Not only by spreading the word but by targeting the right people. Mysa gained brand recognition and awareness. 

Bottom line: consumers in Quebec were seeing Mysa and then searching for it. 

Leveraging the success of Nest and Ecobee

The competition for smart thermostats has become fierce over the last decade. 

For Mysa, it’s about leveraging the success of other products like Nest and Ecobee, but not forgetting about carving out their ecosystem. No doubt, the demand and market interest for smart thermostats has helped. Though, the organization positions itself well to solve tracking alternative heating solutions.

With a niche-product like Mysa, they must add products that have more of a mass appeal. It’s a balance between targeted and mass types of marketing. For the founders, it’s an everyday battle. Amy explained,

“It's every day. At what point do we make the jump into these bigger types of marketing? Do we do billboards and TV instead of our large digital focus? My philosophy and my focus now are how do we round this out more? And how do we make a bigger and stronger brand?”

To round out their brand appeal, Mysa has focused a lot of effort on customer research. So far, the team has built-up three years’ worth of data to assess North American consumers’ state.

They asked qualitative questions such as:

  • Which places in North America are moving to clean energy?
  • Which places are staying with electricity?

In Canada, it’s been much easier for the team to arrive at the data they need. They know British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland, and the Atlantic provinces like the back of their hand. But the smaller pockets like Ontario and Alberta are tough to reach. 

Thinking about mass marketing, you can’t pick and choose where your ads are being shown. The Mysa team also did not want to throw money out of the window on ads that did not drive revenue.

Mysa decided to work with two research companies. One in Canada and one in the U.S. These organizations were able to take customer data and overlay it with census data. This gave Mysa a preview into similar audiences by postal and zip code.

Armed with the new data set, Mysa identified hotspots for electric heating. Places like Vancouver, British Columbia. They could even cut the search down to the correct neighborhood.

Mysa expands the product line to track air conditioning

Mysa's new product tracks energy for AC units. With their buffed product line, the team is ready to expand into more mass marketing tactics. Especially in the regions, they identified as hot-spots through research. 

It helps that there are a variety of heating/cooling solutions across North America.

Toronto or New York are examples of communities that use alternative energy sources. These cities have hot summers and cold winters. Many older homes may have baseboard heating or window AC units. Tenants might split the electricity bill or manage their devices individually. This renders the traditional one-thermostat solution useless.

USPS energy savings are one of the main benefits of owning a Mysa. You know where your energy usage is going. The Mysa system works on electricity, so it connects right to your voltage panel. This means you get to see every cent you are spending on electricity and through which room. 

The data set that Mysa provides you is unparalleled to that of a Nest system.

The Future of Mysa Smart Thermostats

The focus for Mysa is to become the leading smart thermostat in North America. Canadian and American households use a lot of electricity -- and they waste a lot too. Yes, the market is smaller in Canada. But remember, their regional market penetration and share could be larger north of the border. 

Mysa recently launched a product that tracks electricity use on air conditioning units. A move that won’t be forgotten across large cities like Toronto, Chicago, or New York. Here, molten-hot summers force city residents to use window AC units to stay cool. Units run non-stop. And consumers need a reliable system designed for the volatile swings in temperature.

Kind of like pants that turn into shorts. And the team seems to like tearaways.

The Mysa offering can tackle a wide range of energy tracking and waste problems. The future is bright for the team as home energy use doesn’t look like it’s going down during the pandemic.

We’re all about an organization looking to do some good through a reduction in a time of perpetual greed and waste.

Go Mysa, Go.

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