The latest advice seems to be that, at present, it is unlikely to be worth trying to switch gas and electricity suppliers at least until prices have stabilised. In fact, TGI data from the Archive suggest that switching has never been a top priority for consumers; also that it is most prevalent among upmarket households.
The most recent TGI data held by AMSR show that around 90% of us have consolidated into taking both gas and electricity from the same supplier. But, that done, we mostly stick rather than twist. Only 18% of British households reported changing electricity supplier and 15% gas supplier in the last 12 months. This level of switching has been consistent: in 2007 the equivalent figures were similar at 17% and 18%.
However the profile of switchers has changed. Back then, DE social-grade households were the most likely to switch, perhaps as the most cost-conscious, or perhaps as ‘late adopters’ of the practice. Today, ABC1 households are 14% more likely than the average to shop around and change their arrangements. They’re also more likely to pay the bills monthly by direct debit.
This kind of historical information, held within AMSR, allows us to understand how consumer behaviour has changed. When large-scale decisions such as those taken by utility companies are involved, understanding trends can be crucial. They let us see how the sector has evolved, and consider how it might continue to do so.
Looking ahead, we might expect developments with smart devices and the ‘internet of things’ to have market impact. If their greater engagement with the market in terms of switching is any guide, we might expect AB social-grade households to be the early adopters. But it will be important to track the speed of adoption so as to maximise the opportunities that will be presented.
In the shorter term though, with prices having risen so steeply of late, the 8% of TGI respondents who say they ‘very often leave the heating on when going out for a few hours’ might be expected to change their behaviour.
TGI (Target Group Index) is a continuous survey which has been carried out in Great Britain since 1969, based on 25,000 adults per annum, who provide information on their use of all major products, brands and services. Media exposure, attitudinal and demographic data are also included. Kantar, who own and operate the TGI (Target Group Index) have made major donations of data to AMSR. Click here to explore the TGI archive within AMSR.
Contributed by Geoff Wicken
Date posted: October 202; see also a previous article from 2018.