Simplification. This is the trend that registered the greatest degree of consensus among the participants in the Everis study on the “Key Energy Consumer Trends 2019”. It refers to the “desire not to complicate life, to simplify interactions with clients, to generate minimalist and clean business models and designs, where simplicity stands out”. Ten Spanish and six Portuguese companies took part in the study.
“The energy sector is undergoing constant evolution”, states the preface to the study, written by Hector Pinar Fernánde (Partner for Utilities & Energy Spain) and Tiago Barroso (Partner for Utilities & Energy Portugal). Based on data generated in international observatories on consumer trends, the global differences and changes in the same compared with 2017 – the year of the previous study published – the authors divided the trends into groups: value proposition, engagement model and channels and interactions.
The complexity of the business, together with the fact that the product is an intangible asset, arose as factors that require companies to provide simplification solutions. The trend of “Simplification”, states the document, “also intends to meet the expectations of current consumers that are placing increasing value on the speed and accessibility provided by digital means”.
The second-placed trend is known as glass in a box. This means creating a bond with the client through transparency, opening up both the company in general and its processes. Trust is one of the main consumer drivers in this trend, and serves as a basis for the choice of the products and services purchased.
“The participating companies regard these two trends as complementary and priority, almost unanimously, due to the need to reduce the complexity inherent to the energy sector. As such, they attempt to simplify consumers´ lives by making the information associated with the products and services marketed more transparent, as well as the interactions between company and client”, explains the study.
Technology arises as the third most relevant trend in the market in 2019. It no longer makes sense to talk about offline and online worlds. “Clients are looking for an extremely well-connected experience”, states the study, which ranks the so-called “ubitech” concept as one of the most relevant trends of the year. “There is a sub-trend, Virtual Companion, in relation to humanised technology, through which consumers begin to feel that it´s possible to have a significant conversation with virtual entities that entertain, educate, heal and even become friends.”
The fourth trend focuses on convenience as being valuable to the client. In these cases, the company turns into “a global provider of services for consumers (the “multi-utility” concept). One of the most disruptive ideas of the “helpful” trend is associated with electrical mobility: the availability of mobile devices that incentivise clients to choose an electric car, demonstrating how much can be saved and where it can be charged.
Finally, “Better Business” is the last of the top five trends for 2019. It demonstrates how consumers assess whether or not the company is doing something positive for society. Companies´ initiatives are consolidated, for example, through a percentage of the client´s monthly revenue invested in projects of a social nature. Despite this trend being well-documented, most of the companies that took part in the study believe that they can make a difference by providing green energy solutions, rather than investing in social causes.
OIL & GAS
In a more global approach, and with a focus on the reality of Portugal and Spain, the Everis study illustrates different realities with regard to the positioning of companies in relation to their priorities and guidelines and their search for points of differentiation in the energy market.
In the case of electricity and gas, the study concludes, “the concentration of pre-existing consumers in the liberalisation of marketing activity resulted in somewhat different dynamics”. “After more than a decade since the appearance or arrival of new players in these markets, the sources of differentiation adopted began to evolve towards engagement models, beyond the proposition of value and channels and formats of interaction comprising the front lines of positioning.”
The study also includes the vision of Oil & Gas companies. “Mobile consumers” are increasingly involved with products and services geared to “residential consumers”. “This enables Oil & Gas companies to take advantage of the first synergies between these two sectors, which also overlap to a significant extent. Focusing on the vision of the two Iberian countries´ realities, the lack of synchronism between the trends given priority in each country should be emphasised”, the study concludes.