The digital opportunities for the changing utility industry.

Megan Stott, Marketing Manager in London, UK
24 July 2020

The much needed digital transformation for brands has been a long time coming, but with the recent global pandemic affecting industries and changing the way we interact with brands, it’s been fast-tracked. As former Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, said “15 years' worth of people have come online in the last 15 days”. Brands need to expedite their digital journey to keep up with the new world and to stay relevant.

Now customers expect, and in some cases demand, a digital solution to everyday problems from their provider. Utility companies in particular are being forced to look at their offering and adapt to create a more positive, digital customer experience. The sector is a traditionally complacent one, with the Big Six companies taking hold of the UK’s energy sector for years. However, with more than 40 new electricity and gas suppliers entering the market over the past four years – the market is changing. The newcomers have a lot more to offer; capitalising on low costs amidst the rising costs from larger companies and providing better customer service, encouraging customer loyalty.

Here, we share some key insights from our newest white paper research on the future of the utility sector.

Digital tools

Our research shows that consumers want that digital solution; 48% would like regular mobile or email notifications about their energy consumption and 49% of those asked would like mobile alerts that their boiler or other appliances need a service. However, a culture shift may be needed for digital solutions to be fully adopted by consumers. The UK introduced smart energy meters in 2009, albeit with a delayed implementation, as a simplified way of digitising bills and energy usage. To date, over 14 million smart meters have been installed in households – but our research shows only 23% of respondents with a meter say it has helped them to better monitor and understand their energy usage.

Challenger brands

Challenger brands have entered the market and have offered consumers a different way of managing their utilities; they provide frictionless digital services, low prices, and on-demand solutions. They have disrupted the market and affected the way consumers can use and interact with them. Compared to the traditional players, newcomers have navigated the heavily regulatory landscape that is so troublesome in the utility industry and have provided consumers with a modern, agile option to manage their energy consumption. According to our white paper research, two-thirds of respondents always or frequently use their supplier website or app to provide meter readings, and 41% use these tools to check their usage.

What is the future of the utility sector?

In our latest white paper, we discuss the future for utilities and share our exclusive research and analysis from our team, together with interviews from leading sector experts. Download it today and get Somo’s strategic insight on:

  • How the traditional utility marketplace is being disrupted

  • How customers are using digital tools and smart technology to manage their utilities

  • What the future looks like for the ‘Big Six’ of the industry and challenger brands

Join us on 6th August (9-10am) for a quick virtual panel debate to dive deeper into our findings with some of the industry’s leading experts. We’ll discuss our consumer research, as well as opportunities and challenges facing the energy and utility sector. Sign up here.