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Microgen with monitoring: The way to open up the market?

In the latest survey of British homeowners carried out under the Delta-ee Microgen Insight Service it was revealed that the inclusion of remote control and remote monitoring / maintenance features could have a sizeable impact on sales of renewable heating products.

This appears a strong option for product suppliers who want to widen their market beyond the small portion of homeowners that are already buying. We are beginning to see more of the latest products on the market (particularly air-source heat pumps) offering this feature.

New approaches will be essential to widen the net and convert interest into higher sales.

More than 10% of our 1,100 sample had already installed at least one low-carbon technology – these individuals are labelled as ‘innovators’ in the market; those who are the first to invest in new products, regardless of price or the perceived risk. However, we found many more, over 40% of the sample, that have ‘seriously considered installing’ microgen (not surprising given the overall high appeal we find these products to have), and a significant proportion indicated they may still install, if industry is able to provide the right propositions.

Customers who demonstrate a strong interest in new technology– before they become mass market – but need a bit more of nudge before purchasing – can be labelled ‘early adopters’. They are a vital step towards new products being successful, because only very rarely can a company survive on ‘innovator’ sales alone. A major question for the UK microgen industry at the moment is how to convert more of the interest we have shown into actual sales among this early adopter group?

We’ve highlighted before how useful finance packages would be as one means of growing sales into this segment (as uptake of solar PV and biomass boilers have verified).  More than just enabling customers afford Microgen, external finance also goes some way to allaying any fears they have of the unknown – building confidence in the technologies if commercial enterprises are seen to back them.

Bundling remote diagnostics into a sales package could increase uptake of microgen

Now, for the first time our research has revealed that adding new levels of functionality through remote control / monitoring / maintenance as-standard would likely have a comparable impact. This is because such an offer provides the same piece of mind and confidence boost that many homeowners clearly need before making the jump over to renewables – filling some of the gap in uptake identified from our survey participants:

remote blog pic

Bundling smart meter remote diagnostics / maintenance capabilities in with a renewable technology package either ‘quite’ or ‘significantly’ increased the appeal of installing for more than 50% of customers. This shows a clear want from customers, possibly because such functionality is seen as the ‘next level’ up from what most already get from traditional heating system (they expect more if they are spending more money?).

More importantly though, this highlights that there is a definite need for reassurance to be provided by suppliers regarding the performance of these products. Many of the product types and brands in the market remain unfamiliar to the average customer. Consequentially, going ahead with an install is considered a risky choice by most.

The fact that the 10%+ of our customers who have installed report ~95% satisfaction with their systems suggests that ultimately remote diagnostic features may well not need to be used very often anyway! Yet, it is apparent that reinforcing a renewable product offering with a monitoring option could be a key strategy to open up the market beyond the traditional customer base.

More details about the survey:

The newest research from the Delta-ee Microgen Insight Service sampled the views of over 1,100 higher-income householders (the key target market for many product suppliers). Topics covered included the latest levels of product awareness and appeal, customer appetite for innovative financing mechanisms and the willingness to pay for low-carbon heating appliances (all on a regional basis).

For more about the Delta-ee Microgen Insight Service contact:

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