Generating for the new generation: how to engage millennials

Bernadette Cullinane

Bernadette Cullinane

The concept of the ‘millennial’ generation has been, and will continue to be, a topic of much discussion and for valid reasons. They love social media, they’re technologically savvy, conscious of political, environmental and social issues, and for the energy industry in particular; millennials represent the new generation of energy customers.

Born between 1980 and 2000, these digital natives have a unique perspective on energy, which influences the way they engage with their energy providers. According to Accenture’s latest New Energy Consumer research, Australian millennials are far more engaged, driven by value and more demanding of their energy provider, when compared to older users.

Like many industries, this evolving consumer landscape is also inevitably impacting many utilities, prompting the shift from large, centrally driven supply companies to distributed and diffused bi-directional energy providers. The time of energy as a commodity is over. Now, the focus is on knowing and engaging the whole consumer and the expectation is on energy providers to care about the individuals’ values and needs.

To address the differing needs of this digitally savvy and demanding new generation of energy customers, energy providers can leverage three key models – the customer centric supplier, the connected lifestyle provider and the distributed energy resource (DER) enabler.

Customer-centric supplier

Millennial customers expect convenient, effortless and instant service from a customer centric supplier. In fact, 80 per cent of Australian millennials indicated they would be discouraged from signing up for additional products and services from their energy provider if that provider was unable to provide a seamless experience.

In an interconnected economy, millennials value personalised interactions and curated experiences. Energy providers can create personalised experiences in a number of ways. In an advancing digital landscape, providers have the opportunity to connect with customers in meaningful ways. This could take the form of a website or app that determines customers’ real time energy use and automatically signs them up to the best available offer. Customisable digital bills, where the user can select the usage information to be displayed, the bill layout and the frequency of the payment periods, have also been growing in prominence and provide customers with personalised experiences that deliver on millennial expectations.

Connected lifestyle provider

To keep pace in the dynamic digital marketplace, millennial customers are also looking to their providers to be connected lifestyle providers. Energy providers need to look past just flicking the switch on power and toward powering their customers’ whole home experience. Millennials are looking to providers to create services such as smart thermostat; which automatically adjust to their tastes and enable customers to remotely monitor and control elements of their home via mobile applications.

DER enabler

Millennial customers are interested in their energy providers becoming a DER enabler. DERs, like residential solar panels and energy storage products, are growing in popularity among the millennial audience, with 55 per cent indicating their likelihood to register for solar panels within the next five years. Many energy providers are looking to enhance their capabilities by strategically investing in solutions to support a more digital and distributed grid; providing new choices and value streams for customers.

It is clear that electricity and gas markets are experiencing a groundswell of change and disruption. Yet, by embracing these three new models —the customer centric supplier, the connected lifestyle provider, and the DER enabler—energy providers will be able to meet the dynamic needs of the millennial energy customer.

To find out more, or to download Accenture’s report, visit The New Energy Consumer: Thriving in the energy ecosystem

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