For our global energy consumer study, we surveyed more than 5,000 consumers in six European countries. The study examines how consumers perceive recent price changes in the energy market, how they react to them, and how willing they are to switch providers.
When it comes to European citizens’ opinions on current developments in energy costs, the national differences are clear to see.
However, there is some agreement in the overall perception of the price changes: around 62 percent of those surveyed consider prices to be expensive or even very expensive. This is despite the fact that real price increases haven’t reached many consumers yet due to long-term contracts. This means that providers should already expect strong negative reactions from customers when the real-terms price increases eventually reach end consumers: For 35 percent of respondents, the price is the number-one reason for switching, and for even more customers (37 percent), the price is one of the three most important reasons for choosing a new energy provider. Providers should therefore prepare accordingly, while keeping regional specifics in mind.
Will switching providers become the norm?
Although consumers claim to know a lot about the electricity market – 78 percent consider themselves better informed now than before the current crisis – very few are aware of the entire product portfolio of their current energy provider. Only 47 percent are aware of what other solutions besides just supplying electricity, gas, and water their energy provider offers. There is a lot of untapped cross-selling potential here, which can be used to bind customers into longer-term contracts.
This is crucial, because around 20 percent of respondents – depending on the country – have switched energy suppliers in the past twelve months. Among those who haven’t switched yet, the number of consumers willing to change providers has jumped since 2021 from 12 percent to almost 27 percent. In this context, one in three consumers say they are likely or very likely to switch energy provider within the next twelve months.
“More than 90 percent of homeowners who have the option to install new features are interested in alternative energy solutions for their homes. There is enormous potential here for modernization and digitalization, which energy providers can use to retain customers for the long term. However, customers don’t see their providers offering solutions: 44 percent of consumers in Germany don’t know what additional services their supplier offers. There is still a lot of customer loyalty potential here to be tapped."
Regional variation in the European energy markets
Let’s take a closer look at where the differences in Europe are. In the UK, for example, the willingness of consumers to switch is at 35 percent, significantly higher than the European average of 26.5 percent. One reason for this are the many insolvencies in the course of the energy price crisis and the associated supplier switches. Another reason is that it has become very easy to change suppliers via price comparison portals.
One reason for this is that it has become very easy to switch energy suppliers via comparison portals.
In France, by contrast, the willingness to switch is at 20 percent, the lowest figure in Europe.
There are more interesting figures to be found further south in Europe: respondents in Spain find electricity prices the most expensive, with 82 percent considering them “expensive” or “very expensive,” compared to the European average of 62 percent.
Meanwhile, in Italy, 26 percent of respondents are interested in buying an alternative energy solution in the next twelve months or already have one.
What’s more, the study also revealed a habit in Germany of making savings immediately: 88 percent of German consumers want to cut costs.
Last but not least, in Austria, 68 percent of those surveyed didn’t want to switch providers before the crisis, but now only 39 percent intend to remain loyal to their provider.
What can providers do now?
In general, the results of our study show that energy suppliers throughout Europe need to take concrete actions to ensure customer retention.
Our top three recommendations:
- 1. Build integrated commodity and solution worlds, not stand-alone products
- 2. Promote churn prevention and loyalty
- 3. Optimize the complete customer experience in approach, sales, and service
You can find more insights by reading the full study: