Smart grid consumer motivation utility engagement

Smart grid stakeholders must communicate to consumers that energy programs are practical, affordable and simple, according to a new report from the customer-focused organisation Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).

Motivations and Emotions of Engaged Consumers, a random sample telephone survey completed between July and August this year, split 493 adults into three groups depending on their level of engagement with energy – high, average and low.

The report, which aims to help energy companies find ways to better engage consumers, suggests ways to transition customer groups to deeper levels of interaction with utility-led programs.

Ways to engage consumers

On the subject of moving low engaged but energy-conscious consumers to higher engagement, the report states: “[this group] is hampered by life-stage issues such as income and housing.

“So while messages about environmental savings and even financial savings are sure to be received positively, it is the practicality, affordability, and simplicity messages that will be critical to creating trial of new and existing energy programs.”

When it comes to moving low engaged as well as low-energy conscious customers to higher engagement, SGCC said: “[This is] a more difficult task – these consumers are not only not engaged, but less interested.

However, it shouldn’t be lost here that this group will make changes to reduce their bill, but whatever they do must be simple to enroll in and use and must communicate extrinsic benefits such as savings money.

The executive summary of the report added: “Start by designing programs/technologies that actually are easy-to-use and convenient. Then message the programs as being convenient and providing money savings opportunities.”

Energy customers behaviour

Some other insights into customer thinking shows that while 64 per cent of consumers consider themselves energy conscious, there’s a gap between people’s stated energy consciousness and their behavior.

However, regardless of why they engage, the vast majority of consumers feel positive about their energy-saving actions. For low engagement consumers, it’s all about saving money. The average engagement group also focuses on money, but is more likely to mention environmental issues. The high engagement consumer mentions money, environment, and responsibility most often.

Unlocking smart grid benefits

Commenting on the need for the market research, Patty Durand, executive director of SGCC, said: “Our Smart Grid Economic and Environmental Benefits report from last year found that there’s a significant amount of consumer benefits that derives directly from consumer engagement and behavior.

“The Motivations and Emotions of Engaged Consumers, study helps stakeholders unlock those benefits for consumers and tailor messaging that invokes engagement around the smart grid.”

SGCC will hold a webinar about the report today at 16h00 EST.