Count the cost of lower prices

Of course consumers switch energy supplier on price – “Critical mass in the energy market” (MW August 16). This has always been the case in what is a fiercely competitive market. In fact, a recent MORI poll confirms that 60 to 70 per cent of people buy on price, so it’s hardly surprising that the utilities giants are finding it tough to build up strong brands.

That’s not to say that brand awareness won’t be important, as the market settles down after consolidation. But the fickleness of the consumer is well documented, especially now they are aware how quick and easy it is to switch to a better deal.

With this in mind, even the best-loved brands can’t guarantee loyalty. What the providers should be concentrating on is ploughing some of their vast marketing budgets into improving customer service – better billing systems for instance. This will at least build trust in their propositions, thereby providing a solid foundation for the brand to be built on.

People may switch providers based on price alone, but they stay because of good service. Branding shouldn’t be forgotten, but it has to work in tandem with a more customer-centric approach. Let’s face it, consumers are never going to get excited about buying gas or electricity, but at the very least we should be able to inspire a bit of trust.

Barry Holloway

Head of marketing

uSwitch

London SW1

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