Pioneering customers as change agents for new energy efficiency services—an empirical study in the Finnish electricity markets
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Energy companies are in dire need of new business models that bring revenues from energy services rather than from increasing energy use. Smart meters and grids offer new opportunities for such services. However, there is a lack of research on what the market potential of such services could be in end-user markets. Certain innovative consumers are more likely to be the first to test new technology-based services and engage in new service co-creation. However, identification of such innovator or lead user customers is difficult especially for electricity end-use efficiency, an invisible and unexciting service for most consumers. This article identifies pioneering customers for novel energy efficiency services offered by electricity providers in terms of psychological factors from an empirical data collected with a consumer survey in spring 2013. We also analyse the similarities and differences between pioneering customers and the mass market with the principal component analysis. We find that certain characteristics of pioneering customers (expertise, ahead-of-the-market needs) could become more widespread in the market due to rising energy prices and improved billing and metering. However, some other aspects contributing to innovativeness (such as experimentalism) are less likely to develop among average consumers, who are more likely to rely on leading companies and seek recommendations from peers before obtaining new services. These differences among consumers need to be taken into account in order to offer consumers usable and useful products and peer group-relevant marketing.
KeywordsEnergy efficiency Services Innovators Lead users Market potential
This research project was financed by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), the Electricity Research Pool of the Finnish energy companies as well as the Finnish Energy Industries. The National Consumer Research Centre contributed to the possibility to publish the results. We, as authors, thank these organisations for their financial support.
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