Competition for Big Gas & Electric

Accenture’s latest global survey, “Revealing the Values of the New Energy Consumer”, examines the “beyond-the-meter” market, a growing playing field of in-home consumer technologies, demand-side management programs and related support services made possible by smart technologies. Nontraditional players from product retailers to telecommunications companies are creating new choices for consumers – and new competitive pressures for utilities and electricity providers.

Accenture’s first key finding:

While consumers regard their utilities as the primary provider for energy-related products and services, dynamic business models are emerging.

No longer just “Gas & Electric”: Most consumers would be willing to consider alternatives for purchasing both electricity and beyond-the-meter products and services. Retailers are the top choice, followed by phone or cable companies, and online providers.

Scoring high on willingness to switch: men, higher income earners, younger consumers aged 25 to 34 years, and people in emerging markets.

Decision-making moment of truth: Consumers say they’re most interested in learning about electricity management programs at these times:

  • When their electricity prices increase
  • When they sign up for electricity service
  • When they’re purchasing new appliances/household electronics

That’s good news for utilities and electricity providers, who are well-positioned to connect with consumers during the top two key moments. But the study also shows that utilities’ trust advantage over potential competitors continues to narrow, and competitors have the opportunity to reach consumers at other key moments. That means utilities should continue to reinforce their role as trusted advisor.