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October 21, 2016
Energy consumer trends reflect desire for new and personalized experiences
By: George Evans

Having previously explored how macro forces and millennials are impacting the new energy ecosystem, we’d now would like to set out four consumer trends that utility companies should consider.


Instant everything

We humans like things to be easy, simple and familiar. However, in today’s complex high-speed world of endless choices and conflicting priorities, it’s not always easy for a brand to create that cut-through to sell or serve. This is further complicated by the myriad devices and services that take up a consumer’s share of mind. Getting a consistent, personalized customer experience across all touchpoints is a critical component to enabling business outcomes, be it home move or consumption information.

And our New Energy Consumer research strongly backs this up:

  • 92 percent of consumers indicated that it’s very or somewhat important to have the same customer experience whatever channel you use.
  • 88 percent appreciate an intuitive experience, where it’s easy to navigate from one interaction channel to another.


Hyper-relevant

Utility companies must ensure that, across the end-to-end experience, they can offer personalized touchpoints and relevant products and services. Offering personalized experiences doesn’t just meet customer expectations but, when executed well, drives sales and reduces churn. In fact, 92 percent of consumers surveyed told us they’d be more satisfied if their energy provider could personalize their overall customer experience. What’s more, 78 percent would use more digital channels if offered a personalized experience across them. Consumers are also increasingly willing to simplify their lives through personalization, with 71 percent somewhat or very interested in an online personalized marketplace from their energy provider.

 

Meaningful experiences

Increasingly for consumers, what they buy acts as an extension of themselves—communicating their values and interests. For utility companies, this means people increasingly care about their carbon footprint. They check labels for value-chain information and work to become more educated, connected and engaged in their own energy consumption. Accenture’s research also supports this trend, showing that more than half of energy consumers are interested in lifestyle energy products and services—and nearly half in solar panels—in the next five years.

 

Collective consumption

Consumers have embraced the sharing economy, which offers access to the benefits of products and services without the burden of ownership. While present in other areas of people’s life such as DIY (TaskRabbit), transport (Uber, Lyft), and accommodation (AirBnB), it’s still on the upswing in the energy industry. The benefits of sharing platforms for energy are powerful: you can cut out the middle person, empowering neighbors to buy and sell energy from one other. Whether or not they embrace collective consumption in their own business models, utilities should prepare for further disruption where consumers and businesses generate, buy and sell energy with each other, crowdfund home-sharing energy technologies and collaboratively switch providers.

For energy retailers, these consumer trends are creating challenges and opportunities, and driving important decisions about how and where they’ll play in the future. To learn more about Accenture’s latest research and analysis, explore The New Energy Consumer: Thriving in the Energy Ecosystem.

Look for future posts, where we’ll that take a deeper dive on potential ways to play in the new energy marketplace.


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