Half of all consumers do not trust their energy suppliers, according to the findings of Opinium’s latest home energy Brand Trust Monitor*. Just 53% of E.ON customers said they trusted their current suppliers, compared to 51% of EDF Energy customers, 50% of British Gas, 49% of Southern Electric, 38% of Scottish Power and 36% of Swalec customers.
You can find the full report here.
Whatever you think of these numbers, brand trust was found to be much worse amongst non-customers than customers. For the market as a whole, British Gas was rated as a trusted brand by just 25% of respondents, ahead of E.ON (21%) and EDF Energy (19%).
41% of British Gas customers agreed with the statement, ‘This brand (their current energy supplier) has good intentions towards its customers’, ahead of E.ON and Southern Electric (both on 37%). But for the market as a whole, the British Gas rating fell to 17% on this criteria, well ahead of E.ON (10%) and EDF Energy (9%).
British Gas leads the way when it comes to being a brand which ‘...always delivers on its promises’,
40% of their customers agreeing with this statement, compared with 15% of the total market, E.ON in second place here with 35% of customers and 8% of all respondents agreeing.
Finally, when asked, in relation to their current energy supplier, whether they agreed with the statement, ‘This brand does a good job’, 54% of British Gas customers were in agreement, ahead of E.ON (50%), EDF Energy (45%) and Southern Electric (44%).
Overall, the findings show that 3 – 4 times more consumers trust their current energy supplier than other energy brands. This perhaps explains why, at least in part, consumers seem reluctant to switch suppliers, despite calls from the government, Ofgem and the Citizens Advice Bureau to do so, in order to save money.
So what explanation is there for these (arguably) low scores? Difficult to judge from this research alone, though recent energy price hikes can’t have helped public opinion towards energy companies. And what, you may ask, is the significance of Trust anyway as an indicator, when compared to more common KPIs such as customer satisfaction or recommendation? Much research has been published about the importance of trust, which I won’t bore you with here. Suffice is to say that brand trust is an amalgamation of a whole range of factors which consumers take into consideration when deciding whether or not they want to shop in a certain retailer or purchase a particular product or service. It can be a powerful factor in determining custom and/or repeat purchase.
The next in Opinium’s Brand Trust Monitor series, due out shortly, is Telecoms providers, so watch this space.
*based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults interviewed between 9th and 11th September 2011.