Advertising, Brand Ambassadors, And Celebrities Emerge As the ABC Of Solar Marketing

Advertising, Brand Ambassadors, And Celebrities Emerge As the ABC Of Solar Marketing

Advertising, Brand Ambassadors, And Celebrities Emerge As the ABC Of Solar Marketing As India’s domestic solar manufacturing ramps up from an estimated 38 GW currently to over 100 GW by 2026, firms have realised the limits of doing business as usual.

Counting on large government-backed projects, with exports as the icing on the cake when possible will no longer cut it. Importantly, for many of the sub-GW manufacturers, two things have become critical to survival, it would seem. Becoming a GW plus manufacturer to wring out whatever economies of scale they can and seek newer avenues for sales to ensure a steady market for their output. The small, organised retail market, hitherto the preserve of established firms like Tata Solar, besides newer, relatively recent entrants like Solar Square, Amplus, and now Redington Solar with its platform-like approach is primed for action like never before. The decibel levels around solar are set to rise exponentially on the back of campaigns from manufacturers, as well as the government itself, which has apparently earmarked a significant campaign that will be kicked off soon.

How big is the market? Gaurav Keswani, Vice President, Amplus Solar, reckons that just the residential market is adding 150-200 MW each year. And could potentially be around 1.5 to 2 GW by 2030. Those are conservative numbers, going by potential as well as national targets for India that are almost 300 GW by 2030. However, even at 200 MW per annum, if we take the benchmark cost of around Rs 50,000 per kW in the retail segment, then we are looking at a market worth over Rs 1000 crores annually. Add in the share from the smaller solar setups in the C&I segment and distributed or decentralised (off-grid) solar, and most industry observers put the market at between Rs 4,000 to Rs 5000 crores per annum now. It’s a market that should grow at over 15% by 2030, especially if energy storage costs come down as projected. Even as margins are thin, with any player lucky to make double-digit margins, firms are hopeful that effective marketing will help drive those up, too.

Surat-based Rayzon Solar is among the firms that have made a decisive switch towards aggressive marketing and sales as it seeks a capacity ramp up to 5 GW by 2025. With capacity approaching 2.5 GW, the firm saw the writing on the wall early and decided to associate with the biggest event on the Indian calendar, the Indian Premier League or IPL, through the Gujarat Titans early this year. The firm is clear about building a connection through sports for its brand, among other things.

Chirag Nakrani

Chirag Nakrani

Rayzon MD, Chirag Nakrani is a believer in advertising. Speaking to SaurEnergy, he tells us that “Solar firms like Rayzon Solar and others investing in advertising can expect several key outcomes to be achieved. Firstly, advertising can raise awareness about the benefits of solar energy and the firm’s specific products or services. India is a vast and diverse country with a growing interest in renewable energy sources. However, there is still a need to educate the masses about the advantages of solar power. Effective advertising campaigns can help bridge this knowledge gap and inform potential customers about solar energy adoption’s environmental benefits, cost savings, and government incentives.”

He continues, “Secondly, advertising can help build trust and credibility for the solar firm. In a market where trust in renewable energy providers is essential, establishing a strong brand presence through advertising can reassure customers about the firm’s reliability and expertise. By showcasing successful installations, customer testimonials, and certifications, the firm can demonstrate its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. This trust-building aspect is particularly critical in India, where many consumers are still apprehensive about switching to solar due to concerns about installation, maintenance, and long-term performance”.

Solar Square brandSolar Square, a solar startup that has come out of nowhere to make an impact in the past two years, surprised a lot of industry folk with its full-page front cover ad in the Times of India’s Lucknow edition recently, a space normally utilised by government claims or at least auto, real estate or retail firms usually.

Sreekant Khandekar, Founder and Director at India’s leading advertising and media firm afaqs!, has a take on this spike in spending, “It seems that it is still early days in solar rooftop, when it comes to marketing to the residential category. Firms probably see an opportunity to grab mindshare before the market gets too cluttered. In that context, don’t be surprised to see the odd firm spending or going well beyond what conventional metrics would dictate.” Khandekar also believes that in fast-rising segments like the C&I segment, there will be a significant overlap from these consumer marketing or advertising initiatives on key decision makers at these firms.

sreekant khandekar

Sreekant Khandekar

A senior finance professional at a firm that has started funding smaller solar projects adds her perspective, “It is a reality that the biggest challenge with solar is the credibility of the EPC or the installer. While selling a product with a 25-year life, there are many subtleties like actual product performance warranties (typically 10 years), maintainance and more. In that context, we are seeing that firms, be it the installers like Tata Power or Solar Square, or equipment providers like Waaree, Adani Solar or other players, see value in building up their own brand as well.”

Pradeep Srikanthan

Pradeep Srikanthan

Pradeep Srikanthan, SBU Head, Solar Equipment Group at Redington Solar India Limited even has a ready three-word answer for the kind of messaging the market demands today. “Trust, Savings and Sustainability.” Redington Solar is probably the largest distributor of solar equipment in the country and has gone one step further by creating a platform where consumers can seek a full solar solution using any of the selection of equipment partners Redington has on offer.

How Much To Build A National Brand?

Media experts, we spoke to say that while the figure is highly subjective, it would be safe to say that building any sort of national brand in a category like solar will take at least Rs 250 to 300 crores plus in a year. Doing the same at a regional level might be possible at Rs 60-80 crores in their view.

Redington’s Srikanthan adds, “There is no right or wrong answer to this question but India being a large country you need to pick an area where one wants to excel. A pan-India footprint is expensive and hard to create. The best strategy is to have a great brand pull and partners who are loyal to you. Take one state at a time and never all of them. If you are opening retail stores then it will add to the cost.”

rayzon solar brand

Rayzon’s Nakrani, whose firm is focused on building up the Rayzon Solar brand currently, can see that it is no easy task. “Establishing a solar brand at the retail level requires a budget that can vary widely depending on various factors, including the scale of operations, location, and marketing strategies. Typically, a small to medium-sized solar brand may necessitate a significant investment.”

He adds, “The budget allocation typically includes expenses for product procurement (raw materials), marketing and branding efforts, retail space rental or setup, inventory stocking, staffing, licensing, certification, training, customer support, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. It’s essential to consider the government’s solar policies and subsidies in India, which can significantly impact the overall budget. Various government incentives, such as the MNRE subsidy and state-level incentives, can help reduce the financial burden and make it more feasible for businesses to enter the solar retail market.”

Nakrani concludes, “Overall, while the budget may vary, careful planning, understanding of local market dynamics, and leveraging government incentives can help make the establishment of a solar brand at the retail level a viable and potentially profitable venture in India,” he says.

Gaurav Keswani

Gaurav Keswani

Gaurav Keswani, Vice President at Amplus Solar, which has a spread of solar options available for the ‘retail’ market also chose to highlight the role of MNRE in promoting solar among the masses. “The MNRE campaign will help spread awareness, which is still an issue in the market. Higher awareness is a prerequisite to building our brand for us, as we are spending carefully at this stage.” Amplus has chosen to associate with ‘celebrity’ influencers on social media, who highlight installations at their home or workplaces, without quite being brand ambassadors. A notable campaign they ran was with Gauri Khan, an interior designer, besides other influencers like Manish Malhotra, besides associations with smaller TV celebrities that are in the works. He points out that the association route is a conscious move versus the brand ambassador approach. “We believe in delivering the message, and not backing on just a face to get that trust. The focus is on the association that delivers and showcases the value the brand ambassador or association is getting from it.” With over 5000 installations to date, Keswani believes that their Homescape brand still has a long way to travel to build truly high brand recall.


Firms we spoke to typically had between 2-3% of costs allocated for advertising, with plans to ramp it up in the future if a case was made for it.

The Rush For Celebrities

For all its seriousness, and the long term nature of the product and service, what is interesting is how many firms have chosen the celeb route to attract attention and eventually, sell.

Simarpreet Singh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hartek Solar, an EPC firm that has a solar plant at Golden Temple on its resume, puts it this way.

“In the B2C segment, there are influencers who can push it. Now anyone with more than 1.5 lakh followers on social media is an influencer by itself. If mega celebrities from cricket, films talk about climate change, solar and sustainability, there is definitely increased awareness. Even the celebrities and influencers now have become conscious on the choice of ads they are doing. They also now want to be a part of the good concepts which are good for the society. If we want to take solar up to household levels, we need higher involvement from these people. I certainly expect to see much more involvement from them.”

Prashant Mathur

Prashant Mathur

That logic clearly worked for Saatvik Solar, which has roped in Ravindra Jadeja as a brand ambassador. The firm, with its plant in Ambala and plans for manufacturing in Gujarat and even the US, aims to be a national player by leveraging Jadeja’s widespread appeal in the market with his direct involvement in the National Indian Cricket Team & IPL’s Chennai Super Kings. Prashant Mathur, CEO at Saatvik Solar says, “Onboarding a brand ambassador offers a boost to any brands visibility. Celebrities have a strong presence in the media and help brands capture consumer’s attention more effectively than any other traditional method of advertisement. Over a period of time celebrities develop an emotional connection with the consumers, increasing the likelihood that customers will trust and pick that product. Celebrities frequently have fan bases or demographics that correspond to a brand’s target audience. Firms may more successfully reach the correct set of prospective clients by selecting the right celebrity endorsement. In the case of Saatvik Solar, after exercising several brainstorming sessions and analyzing celebrities’ reach, our targeting audience management concluded to collaborate with a cricket personality who can create a long-lasting perception and influence our target audience”. Enter, Ravindra Jadeja, one of the leading all-rounders in Indian cricket.”

saatvik brand

Rayzon’s Nakrani concurs, adding that “India is a highly competitive market with a vast and diverse consumer base. Celebrities bring relatability and aspirational value to products, making them more appealing to a broad spectrum of consumers. This can be especially crucial in a country where brand loyalty is often driven by emotional connections rather than just rational decision-making”. Adding a final word of advice on celebrities, he says, “ In a society where celebrities are seen as role models, their endorsements can influence consumer behavior significantly. While information-based advertising remains essential, celebrity endorsements effectively allow Indian firms to break through the cluttered advertising landscape and establish a memorable brand presence.”

Does The Market Offer Opportunities to Differentiate

This might come as a surprise to many customers, but the answer is yes. However, the opportunities actually start at the 3kW and above levels, which also happens to be the minimum project size many firms seek in the residential segment in particular. While government subsidies start from 1 kW and cease beyond 10kW, even for lower sizes, there are pockets where subsidies do not matter. In ‘evolved’ markets like Bengaluru, some parts of Gujarat and even Kerala, many firms have been surprised at the research done by their customers. At a recent event in Surat, Gujarat, which was well attended by many EPCs, the common refrain we heard was that costs do not matter in that city. Calling it the IPhone customer, installers had many stories to share of customers who simply wanted the best, and not be limited in their choice of that by government subsidies etc. It’s the same story from Bengaluru, where premium offerings like microinverter based solar systems from US-based Enphase have found a market too.

Redington’s Srikanthan stresses that “segmentation already exists in terms of products and services both. Modules of some brands are way more expensive than others. In fact, there is a choice in terms on quality as well. Large corporates offer great benefits with the assurance of life-long service but obviously that will come at a cost. Once setup solar lasts three decades. So it’s important that one pays a little more but picks better products.”

Nakrani agrees, “For premium offerings, there is a growing market among environmentally-conscious consumers and businesses looking for high-efficiency solar panels, advanced energy storage solutions, and top-tier installation and maintenance services. These premium offerings may come with added features like IoT connectivity for monitoring or aesthetically pleasing designs. Such offerings can target urban areas, affluent consumers, and industries aiming to reduce their carbon footprint.”

“On the other hand, budget solar offerings can tap into the vast Indian middle-class and rural markets where cost-effectiveness is a significant concern. These solutions may focus on affordable solar panels, basic installation services, and simpler financing options. The government’s subsidies and incentives can also play a role in making budget-friendly solar solutions accessible to a broader audience.”

Amplus’s Keswani offers a very interesting analogy to explain how the market is evolving. “If you consider the PC market from a decade or more ago, we had this category called assembled PCs. These were cheaper, and very well accepted. But now this does not exist, with the market shifting to a branded option. Solar is somewhat like the assembled PC market right now. Any developer can put together the kind of plant you want. We seek to package the best in class materials that are available, bundle it and offer it as a service to our customers. So our focus is on building our credibility based on our record, experience etc.”

Keswani shares how their research shows that in a place like Goa, people actually want to install solar for the environment. While Karnataka is a premium-seeking market, even as most of North India remains value-driven, underlining the need to customise messaging. But the firm has eventually identified three parameters to stress on. Cost saving, the environment, and innovation. Cost savings being the clear leader.

Media Choice-Digital First

Digital media is a clear winner here, although firms do value the reach of traditional media like TV and radio especially in local languages for rural areas, as Nakrani points out.

Amplus’s Keswani says that they manage their work internally, with social media as the lead medium. He is fine with legacy brands doing the hard work of category creation.

“Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can build brand awareness, while search engine marketing and display ads can target specific demographics. Informative website content can educate potential consumers about solar solutions. Print media is valuable for targeting specific segments, while outdoor advertising in urban areas enhances brand visibility,” adds Nakrani.

Respondents agree that messaging should highlight both environmental benefits and cost savings, emphasizing reduced electricity bills, government incentives, and positive environmental impact. Addressing concerns about initial investments and focusing on the reliability and longevity of solar solutions is crucial. Customizing messages to appeal to eco-conscious urban consumers and budget conscious rural households ensures effective communication in the Indian solar market.

Going regional with languages is also relevant, as Saatvik’s Mathur calls it. “Campaigns in regional communications can definitely benefit and can deliver extra marketing advantages to brands. When brands communicate in regional languages they can demonstrate their commitment of understanding and serving local communities. By promoting communication in regional languages, Brands can build trust and credibility among their potential buyers, as your target audience feels more comfortable in understanding about your offerings.”


In a market where total spending on advertising will remain below 150 crores this year, the story could change very quickly as new manufacturing capacities come online in India. This is a market that is set to change on the back of years of underperformance and below potential outcomes in the residential and the lower side of the C&I segment. We will even go as far as to call it and say this market could double by 2026, well above the projected growth rates from analysts. For possibilities, look no further than Gujarat, where rooftop solar is ubiquitous today, allowing it to account for almost 70% of all such installations in the country today. That status quo has to change, and when it does, the whole market will change for good.

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