In our latest wave of research into the energy market, we have seen some interesting trends in how ‘in-market’ customers are researching and choosing their energy supplier. To begin with, let’s look at what is driving final preference. When UK consumers are choosing a preferred energy brand, what exactly are they driven by?
Figure 1: Drivers of final preference Nov ’15 – Jan ’16
Energy consumers in the UK, similar to those in Ireland, are primarily driven by price with 41% of UK consumers looking for the best value. In the Irish market, a higher majority of consumers choose the energy provider that has the ‘best plan to suit my needs’ at 42% versus 20% in the UK, demonstrating the gap between the two markets. Consumers are looking for the right deals and prices however energy provider websites need to communicate and demonstrate their value proposition clearly. Perhaps a brand that offers more in terms of rewarding loyalty will be best placed in the market? A ‘non-price’ value proposition could indeed offer something new and different. Energy providers will stay ahead by ‘adding value’ beyond just offering the cheapest energy in the market, through rewards schemes and loyalty incentives. Aside from price, other elements such as ‘trust’ (30%) and plans that are easy to understand (23%) are also drivers of final preference for UK consumers.
The role of aggregator websites
Relevant price messaging is important as consumers who are looking for a new energy provider actively research and use a number of means in order to weed out the best deal online and aggregators play a key role here.
Consumers are using aggregators to filter and create a shortlist but then go to the brand website to purchase. The implication here is that if your brand does not feature on an aggregator, it will not be considered. Aggregator websites capture consumer interest through key messaging at the search phase of the online journey, more so than the brands! A stark reminder then to established brands and even new entrants, that the role of aggregators in the online journey should not be underestimated. These lesser known brands are actively increasing market share due to search engine results pushing consumers toward the aggregator site where they are able to easily compare prices across a variety of brands but ultimately consumers will opt to purchase through the brand website as they believe it is more trustworthy.
What terms are energy consumers searching for in the UK?
Over 95% of consumers start their journey on a search engine when looking for the best energy deal or a new energy provider. Aggregator websites such as uSwitch, Compare the Market and Money Supermarket dominate visits from search engines, primarily Google.
Figure 2: Search terms – UK consumers Nov ’15 – Jan ’16
If we look at the most used search terms in the UK, the top 4 are brands, namely, British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy and nPower, followed closely by comparison site uSwitch. In fact, the most visited domain from a search engine is uSwitch at 37% of visits; this is worth noting given that only 6% of consumers searched for uSwitch as an actual search term. Clearly at some point on the online journey there is a diversion to aggregators even though consumers set out in search of a brand name.
Just over a third of UK consumers only visit aggregators
Figure 3: The role of search Nov ’15 – Jan ’16
A third of consumers in this research only visited aggregator websites when considering what brands to put on their shortlist. A fifth only go to a brand’s website and make a decision from there.
Our research shows that consumers go back and forth between
Search –> aggregator –> brand
Search –> brand –> aggregator
Aggregator sites are used to find the best deal but application forms are normally completed on the brand’s website due to a higher perceived trust with the brands website.
Global Reviews excels at solving the critical problems digital leaders face in customer acquisition.
- WHY are we losing potential online customers who are actively considering buying from us (taking out a quote and shortlisting us) but then buy from another company?
- WHAT can we learn from other companies around the world that will enable us to stop losing customers that we should and could be winning?
- HOW do we independently validate, in such a fast-moving and disruptive digital environment, that the development decisions we are making are the right ones?
To find out how we can help you, please contact:
Hannah Rose Farrington – Commercial Director
T: +44 (0) 203725 8263
M: +353 871263043