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It’s already been 18 months since we wrote about the emergence of what we believed could be an important new trend: the growth of auto-switching services. Since then, we have watched as a series of new players has begun playing this new game. Customers continue to sign up – perhaps as many as 200,000 across Europe – and we’ve spotted no fewer than twenty auto-switchers across the world, several of whom are increasingly well funded. We have revisited this intriguing trend in some recent research, increasingly convinced that incumbents need to start taking the threat seriously.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, auto-switchers are next-generation price comparison sites, reimagining the one-off, manual tariff switching services that companies like GoCompare, Moneysupermarket and Selectra offer residential energy users. Typically, you register your home and criteria online and the auto-switcher will run an algorithm, or even use AI, to find the best deal on the market to suit your preferences (price savings, service, green) then switch you whenever it flags up that savings can be had. Timings & authorisation vary, but the idea is that you only ever personally need to take action once at the start (unless to update preferences) then forever live in complete security that the hassle of switching is removed from your To Do list forever. Some services operate membership fees (Flipper) and others rely on commission (comparison sites, Labrador) or optional hardware (June), but all share the goal of permanently soothing the perennial consumer headache that is finding the best supplier.
Last year, Delta-ee’s Heat Insight Service established its first Customer Panel – a representative sample of up to 1,000 private homeowners. The aim was to provide answers to the questions that heating manufacturers, energy suppliers and policy makers have for their customers. This helps them to improve engagement and understand their target market in more detail.
With our Customer Panel research moving into the next stages it is time for another edition in our series of blogs looking at some of the key insights coming from this ongoing research.
Our first exercise conducted earlier this year showed that there continues to be a mismatch between customers who buy microgen and those who want to buy it. The biggest factor that plays into this is the fact that many customers who want to install often cannot afford the upfront investment. However, we find that they are more than open to using alternative funding options that would solve the upfront cost barrier.
In my last blog I introduced the Delta-ee Customer Panel – a brand new resource made up of 1,000 UK homeowners. Our panellists will participate in numerous exercises throughout the year, enabling us to explore in detail customer attitudes to heat, energy, technologies, new business models, to name a few the key uses.
In this post I share some interesting findings from our first research piece with the panel and look specifically at what our participants say about the opportunity for energy storage.
We are very excited to announce the launch of the Delta-ee Customer Panel. This is a brand new resource made up of 1,000 panellists who will participate in a series of research exercises – to be conducted mainly as part of our ‘Heat Insight Service’ (HIS) programme for 2016/17.
The panel is made up of a highly-representative sample of UK homeowners – whose views, feedback and experiences will provide unique insight as we help our clients identify the key opportunities for growth in the domestic heating sector (which, irrespective of recent political events, will remain the continent’s largest heating market).
Time flies. I first blogged about Thermondo in October 2014, pointing out how I believed it could shake up the German heating market. One and a half years later they are in the very early stages of doing precisely this, and recently raised €23.5M to drive their growth into, in their words, “an integrated energy company in a distributed world of energy”. I visited the company’s headquarters in Berlin last week and thought I’d share some of my latest thoughts in this blog.
I previously characterised Thermondo as disrupting the traditional route to market for heating systems, by offering a 21st century way for customers to buy a new heating system and have it installed. They have been executing on precisely this over the last couple of years. Customers complete a survey and upload photographs of their heating system, receiving a firm quote from Thermondo whose software optimises the best solution for the customer. The company’s in-house installation teams across the country then carry out the installation. Thermondo is now installing thousands of heating systems a year in this way. The numbers are small in relation to the overall heating market: their challenge now is to get to scale, and as you’ll see below, broaden their offering.
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