by Frank Sels
In a large market analysis, Trilations questioned 1.000 B2C consumers regarding the 6 largest energy retail suppliers in Belgium. It is essential for energy suppliers to stand out in the consumer retail market. A clear positioning is a crucial strategic element to stay profitable in the fast-changing energy market.
The ongoing energy transition – with its shift to renewable energy and the liberalized landscape – is reshaping the energy market dramatically. As a result, there is increased competition, higher consumer switch rates and pressure on retail margins.
To stay profitable, energy suppliers must develop new retail strategies. But what exactly drives energy consumers and how should customer retail strategies adapt?
Today, at many energy retail events, presentations focus on new customer intimacy (digital) business models and services. However, we are rarely informed about the success of these models and services, their adoption rate among customers and – finally – their impact on a retailer’s market share.
As an international market strategy expert with many references in the energy market, Trilations decided to conduct a market analysis and questioned 1.000 B2C consumers regarding the 6 largest energy retail suppliers in Belgium. The objective was to understand what really drives consumers in the energy market.
Our study identifies for each of the 6 largest Belgian energy suppliers, the most important company and product drivers, as well as the extent to which new service offerings have an impact. Our survey is detailed and actionable, since all drivers are analyzed with their underlying attributes.
Questions in our survey included:
- How well-known is each energy supplier on the market? Obviously, customers will only consider the suppliers they know…
- How do customers perceive the company and its products? What is the perception of the positioning of each supplier?
- What innovations are energy suppliers using to make themselves more attractive to consumers and to boost future business? Are consumers really interested in these new products/services?
- What are currently the leading business drivers? Which impact do they have on market shares and how can suppliers differentiate?
A clear positioning is an essential element in the retail strategy of an energy supplier, seeking to stand out and thrive in the current market. All communication regarding the company, its products and services should be directed at reinforcing the envisioned positioning and encouraging certain associations in the customer’s mind. Customers select their energy supplier based on the way they perceive the supplier’s positioning. The supplier’s reputation or image, based on its product and service offerings, should appeal to the selected customer target group.
In its largescale study among 1.000 B2C customers, Trilations measured no less than 13 business drivers and 48 company attributes and product attributes. For example, a driver like ‘company image’ was measured regarding different aspects or ‘attributes’, like trustworthiness, financial stability or good reputation. A driver such as ‘online tools & apps’ was measured regarding attributes like ‘real-time’ or ‘easy-to-use’. We analyzed and compared the impact of each driver on the performance of each of the 6 energy retailers, and we weighed the relative importance of each attribute, with regards to enhancing a supplier’s market share. Since quite a few retailers are in the process of transforming from mere ‘energy suppliers’ into ‘energy service providers’, we also analyzed the impact of new products/services to evaluate their relevance.
Some interesting observations arise from the analysis of the drivers in the energy retail market, carried out by Trilations.
A first one is that not a single Belgian energy retailer was able to deliver beyond customer expectations. In a similar study by Trilations, carried out for the Belgian insurance industry, suppliers were regularly able to exceed customer expectations.
Secondly, the scores for company and product drivers were quite different for the 6 leading suppliers.
Finally, we observed that consumers think first about the company. The product is considered later. Therefore, the focus of a good retail strategy should be more on company-related drivers, in addition to well-known product drivers like pricing.
To compete successfully, energy retail suppliers should aim to differentiate and stand out in the market, pick up on consumers’ priorities and work on the business drivers that have a direct impact on their market share.
Trilations offers services to develop future-oriented B2B & B2C market- and customer strategies. We provide the business consulting that ensures all advantages of the chosen strategy are realized.
With over 15 years of focus on the energy sector, Trilations is a valued consulting partner for managers that are looking to maximize the ROI of their investments. We combine data research and analytical skills with emotional intelligence to identify what is driving your business and turn these insights into impactful actions.