Providers risk being left behind as energy becomes a personal priority for consumers – EY research

December 7, 2022

Energy is now top of mind for consumers as it increasingly impacts their lifestyles and their wallet. This is according to the EYEnergy transition consumer insights’ report, which surveyed 70,000 residential energy consumers, across 18 markets over two years. The research shows that 71% of consumers are more interested in reducing their energy costs and consumption today compared to a year ago, with 65% saying their interest in monitoring their energy usage, reducing environmental impact (61%), and purchasing new energy products and services (50%) has increased in the past year.

This year’s insights reveal that a critical mass of consumers has now joined the “omnisumer” category – a person or business entity who participates in a dynamic energy ecosystem across a multitude of places, solutions and providers. Nearly half of consumers (42%) say they would prefer multiple energy solution providers over a single one, and more than 25% would turn to a company such as an online retailer, solar provider, or home improvement retailer over their energy provider when it comes to solutions. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers have already invested or intend to invest in products that change their energy lifestyles – 82% in energy efficient appliances; 67% in energy efficient windows, doors and insulation; 60% in a smart thermostat; and 59% in an electric vehicle.

Greg Guthridge, EY Global Energy & Resources Customer Experience Transformation Leader, says: “Energy’s central role in our lives has never been clearer and, for consumers, the issue is now personal. Rising prices, security concerns and the decarbonization agenda have hit home and passive energy consumers are no more.”

Confidence shaken but sustainability engagement is resilient

In all aspects of their energy experience, consumer confidence has been deeply shaken, creating potential barriers to the energy transition. Only 40% are confident their energy provider will create value for them and their community in the future, and less still (35%) are confident in the affordability of their energy in the next three years.

Conversely, consumer engagement in sustainability is resilient, with more than one-third (39%) willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services – up from 36% last year. However, only half (51%) of consumers are clear about the actions and investments they can make in order to be more sustainable. And less than one-third have a good understanding of terminology such as “renewable energy”, “sustainability”, “carbon neutral” and “net zero” – this remains unchanged since last year’s survey, despite media attention on the energy crisis and climate change.

Guthridge says: “It is clearer than ever that it is the consumer who will play the most critical role in creating a sustainable energy future. And while consumer engagement in energy has never been higher, there is much more they will need to do personally, particularly as their confidence in energy providers, and in the industry itself, has been shaken.”

Energy experience out of step with consumer transformation

Almost all consumers are making some changes to their lifestyles to reduce energy and save money, time and the planet. However, the energy experience of today is out of step with the speed and breadth of the consumer transformation that is underway. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers are not satisfied or only partially satisfied with the performance of their energy provider when it comes to new energy product and service experiences.

However, opportunities do exist for those energy providers who find ways to engage and inspire change. Eighty-one percent of consumers tell us they want their energy providers to offer support and advice about new energy products and services, and they still turn to providers first when purchasing new energy solutions. Similarly, nearly three-quarters (73%) are interested in some form of energy metaverse experience.

Guthridge says: “Energy providers can do more to support consumers amid ongoing uncertainty and change. Investing in the capabilities that will help consumers move forward on their energy journey is a no-regret action. Providers cannot go back, stand still or even slow down. Transforming the customer experience is now an imperative for survival.”

EY believes energy providers can seize consumer momentum now and light the path ahead through six no-regrets strategic imperatives that reinvent the energy experience, build a foundation for tomorrow, and engage and inspire consumers. Find out more here.

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