Majority of Consumers Would Buy Electricity, Energy-Efficiency Products and Related Services From Companies Other Than Energy Suppliers, Accenture Study Finds

Households look beyond price and demand more convenience, fun and consumer technologies from electricity management programs

NEW YORK; April 13, 2011 – A majority of consumers would consider buying electricity and energy efficiency solutions from companies other than traditional energy providers, according to research conducted by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).  
Revealing the Values of the New Energy Consumer, a survey of 10,199 people in 18 countries , found that 73 percent of consumers would consider buying electricity, energy efficiency products and related services from companies other than traditional energy providers.  The survey also found that:
  • Over half (59 percent) would consider buying electricity, energy-efficiency products and related services from product retailers, 49 percent from cable/ phone companies and 45 percent from online sites/brands.
  • When considering the purchase of energy-efficient products such as smart thermostats, 54 percent would opt for their electricity supplier, 50 percent would consider buying from retailers, 32 percent from online sites and 22 percent from cable/phone companies.
  • At least 90 percent of respondents in China, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore and Brazil would buy electricity, energy efficiency products and related services from non-traditional electricity providers, compared with 23 percent in France, 50 percent in Belgium and 59 percent in Germany.
“Incumbent utilities clearly remain the provider of choice, but new ‘beyond-the-meter’ products and services offer an opportunity for alternative suppliers. They are also raising consumer expectations about the nature and quality of service,” said Greg Guthridge, global managing director, Accenture Retail and Business Services for Utilities. “Electricity providers will have to broaden the range of their services, be innovative and transform the way they engage with consumers. Utilities could potentially capitalize on the opportunity by working with other consumer brands to drive added value products and services.”
Consumers look beyond price
While impact on the electricity bill remains the main factor, respondents considered other elements when making their decision to adopt an electricity management program. A majority (57 percent) would adopt an electricity management program even if it did not reduce their electricity bills. Almost a third (29 percent) would adopt a program that required them to pay 5 percent more on their electricity bill.
Consumers look for greater convenience and mobility
Smart consumer technologies will be key components of energy management programs as customers look for greater convenience and mobility:
  • 60 percent of respondents would be interested in technology that can completely automate the management of their electricity. 
  • 35 percent would install a smart device that automatically turns on or off pre-selected appliances, a ‘set and forget’ program.
  • More than a third would be interested in monitoring and managing their usage through personal electronics (36 percent).
  • 35 percent would be interested in the ability to customize the design of the in-home display or the online portal of their electricity management program.
  • Mobility is important with almost a third (32 percent) of consumers interested in applications they can download on their mobile phone to measure their consumption in real time.
Electricity – fun for the whole family?
Householders also expect electricity services to be a family matter. 89 percent say it is somewhat or very important for electricity management programs to be easy to use for the whole family. 53 percent think it somewhat or very important for electricity management programs to be fun to use.   When asked what features they would look for, 20 percent say they would be interested in electricity management programs that included family activities and games about electricity usage.
“Electricity is no longer a commodity, but a part of our lifestyle choices,” said Guthridge. “Consumers want energy management to be fun and family-oriented. Utilities must appeal to the new energy consumers’ changing tastes before other companies enter the evolving energy marketplace by leveraging their own consumer oriented brands.” 
Face time matters
Consumers exhibit a strong preference for face to face contact when purchasing energy-related products and services. When buying energy-efficient products, such as smart thermostats, 52 percent of respondents say they want to make a purchase with a staff member in a store location. Only 29 percent would be happy purchasing online without interacting with staff. When buying a ‘set and forget’ energy program, 63 percent would want to purchase from a staff member either in store or at their home.  
Data privacy: a smaller obstacle than anticipated?
Consumers may “opt-in” to allow third-party providers access to personal usage information if they perceive value. 63 percent of consumers state that third parties having access to their personal information for the purposes of making a program work would not prevent them from signing up for an electricity management program. Moreover, 48 percent state that third parties having access to their personal information for the purposes of offering additional services to help them save on their electricity bill would not prevent them from signing up for an electricity management program.  
Accenture’s Research Program and Methodology
Accenture’s study, Revealing the Values of the New Energy Consumer, is based on an online survey conducted in native languages with 10,199 residential end customers in 18 countries, during December 2010.
The study is the second installment in Accenture’s multi-year research program aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of consumer’s attitudes, opinions and preferences toward energy management programs. The first research installment, Understanding Consumer Preferences in Energy Efficiency, was released in April 2010. Complementing the research, The New Energy Consumer – Strategic Perspectives on the Evolving Energy Marketplace outlines the forces influencing the energy consumer marketplace, the emerging business models, the broad currents shaping the industry and actions energy providers can take now.
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 215,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.  Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.  The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010.  Its home page is
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