‘What’s my number’ increases customer switching in New Zealand


Carl Hansen,
Chief Executive,
Electricity Authority
Wellington, New Zealand — (METERING.COM) — May 7, 2012 – In the first seven months of the ‘What’s My Number’ campaign there was a 28 percent increase in customer switching in New Zealand, with customers saving an estimated NZ$8.7 million (US$6.9 million).

In the period from June 1 to December 30, 2011, 244,199 customers switched their electricity supplier, compared with 191,337 switches over the same period in 2010.

In addition there was a 400 percent increase in switch initiations on the Powerswitch website to 42,687 in the period, versus 8,500 for all of 2010.

‘What’s My Number’ was launched by the Electricity Authority as the central program activity of the Consumer Switching Fund. The purpose of the fund is to promote to consumers the benefits of comparing and switching electricity retailers and to improve the capability of the Powerswitch website. It has a value of NZ$5 million (US$4 million) per year over 3.5 years.

Based on 2010 data, it was estimated the average household could save NZ$150 (US$120) per year by switching electricity retailer. Collectively, this equates to New Zealand households annually paying NZ$240 million (US$191 million) more than they need to for their electricity.

Customers’ propensity to switch is expected to increase as they become more prepared and adept at shopping around amongst electricity retailers and look for competing offers. This in turn puts pressure on retailers to ensure they are always pricing competitively for their level of service and product or risk losing customers.

Since the launch of What’s My Number, retailers have been seen to change their pricing and marketing strategies, and for example, Contact Energy increased its Online OnTime plan discount from 12 percent to 22 percent.

“When the Electricity Authority launched the What’s My Number program, it was with a strong belief that encouraging New Zealanders to shop around for their electricity had the potential to change the retail electricity landscape,” said Carl Hansen, chief executive. “In 2011, increased competitive behavior has resulted in even more opportunity to save, with the average savings now reaching $165 per household.”

What’s My Number provides consumers with information about their ability to switch electricity suppliers, the ease of switching; and potential savings they can make on electricity bills by switching. Central to the approach is an online tool that allows consumers to see how much they may be able to save on their electricity bills by switching.

The 2012 campaign was launched on April 15 and will continue throughout the winter. The campaign has also been expanded to provide specific support for small to medium-size business owners.