der markt

, Volume 51, Issue 2–3, pp 63–74 | Cite as

Generic customer segments and business models for smart grids

Empirical evidence from a cross-European country study
  • Hans C. Curtius
  • Karoline Künzel
  • Moritz LoockEmail author
Special Issue: Value to the Customer


The implementation of smart grids—one of the urgent goals to meet international policy expectations for energy efficiency and CO2 reduction targets—is not a technological issue alone, as it also requires social acceptance by various stakeholders (Wolsink, Renew Sustain Energy Rev, 2011). It is of particular interest that smart grid products and services provide value to the customer. On the one hand, customer value of smart grid technologies is crucial to customer acceptance. On the other hand, as customer value is a key driver for economic value creation and competitive advantage (DeSarbo et al., Strategic Manag J 22:845–857, 2001; Porter, Competitive advantage, 1985), it is also important for companies and investors and thus will affect market acceptance of smart grid technologies. In the literature, business models address the bridge between customers and company needs and serve as mediators between technology and economic success by providing a value proposition to customers and a revenue model for companies (Chesbrough and Rosenbloom, Ind Corp Chang 11:529–555, 2002). However, we know from the literature that a one-size-fits-all business model may not lead to the best results as it might fail to address heterogeneous customer value perceptions (DeSarbo et al., Strategic Manag J 22:845–857, 2001; Morris et al., J Bus Res 58:726–735, 2005; Ruiz et al., Serv Ind J 27:1087–1110, 2007; Wiedmann et al., Psychol Mark 26:625–651, 2009). Thus, different business models providing different customer value propositions need to be developed to fit the different market segments in an optimal way. On the basis of a cross-European country study, we explore three generic B2C customer segments for smart grid products and services based on different value perceptions (Supporters, Ambiguous and Skeptics). Based on the segmentation we conceptually derive four generic business model designs with different customer value propositions best suited for approaching those segments (Saver, Smart +, Trader, Smart Camouflage). Implications for energy policy, research and smart grid management are derived from the findings.


Business Model Smart Grid Social Acceptance Technology Acceptance Model Customer Segment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Backhaus K, Erichson B, Wulff P, Weiber R (2003) Multivariate Analysemethoden. Eine anwendungsorientierte Einführung. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  2. Belz C, Bieger T (2006) Customer Value: Kundenvorteile schaffen Unternehmensvorteile. mi-Fachverlag, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  3. Better Place (2011) Accessed 10 Sept 2011Google Scholar
  4. Bogoslaw D (2010) Smart Grid’s $ 200 Billion Investement Lures Cisco, ABB. Accessed 22 Sept 2011
  5. Casadesus-Masanell R, Ricart JE (2007) Competing Through Business Models. Working Paper No. 713. IESE Business School. SSRN: Accessed 14 Oct 2010Google Scholar
  6. Chesbrough H (2007a) Business model innovation: It’s not just about technology anymore. Strategy Leadersh 35(6):12–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chesbrough H (2007b) Why companies should have open business models. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 48(2):22–28Google Scholar
  8. Chesbrough H, Rosenbloom RS (2002) The role of the business model in capturing value from innovation: evidence from Xerox Corporation’s technology spin-off companies. Ind Corp Chang 11(3):529–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clastres C (2011) Smart grids: Another step towards competition, energy security and climate change objectives. Energy Policy 39:5399–5408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cometta C, Hannich F, Rauh M (2010) Smart Metering: Kein Thema für Schweizer Energieversorger?; Kommentierte Ergebnisse einer Studie der ZHAW/Verband Schweizerischer Elektrizitätsunternehmen (VSE) (Ed.)-: VSE, 1012s. (Bulletin SEV/VSE)Google Scholar
  11. Daoud M, Fernando X (2011) On the communication requirements for the smart grid. Energy Power Eng 3:53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis FD (1989) Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Q 13(3):319–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeSarbo WS, Jedidi K, Sinha I (2001) Customer value analysis in a heterogeneous market. Strategic Manag J 22:845–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dibb S, Stern P, Wensley R (2002) Marketing knowledge and the value of segmentation. Mark Intell Plan 20(2):113–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DISTRES (2009) Promotion and Consolidation of all RTD Activities for Renewable distributed Generation Technologies in the Mediterranean Region, Task 2.2: Business Models and Market Entry Strategies. Copenhagen Business School/University of St. GallenGoogle Scholar
  16. ETP—European Technology Platform SmartGrids (2010) Strategic deployment document for Europe’s electricity networks of the future. Accessed 22 Aug 2011
  17. European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (2009) Directive 2009/28/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC. Accessed 20 Sept 2011
  18. Faruqui A, Hledik R, Sergici S (2009) Piloting the Smart Grid. Electr J 22(7):55–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Forsa (ed.) Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung und statistische Analysen mbH (2010) Erfolgsfaktoren von Smart Metering aus Verbrauchersicht. Accessed 10 May 2011Google Scholar
  20. Frantzis L, Graham S, Katofsky R, Sawyer H (2008) Photovoltaics business models. National renewable energy laboratory, Burlington. Accessed 10 May 2011Google Scholar
  21. Hedman J, Kalling T (2003) The business model concept: Theoretical underpinnings and empirical illustrations. Eur J Inf Syst 12(1):49–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Holbrook MB (Ed.) (1999) Consumer value. A framework for analysis and research. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. IEA—International Energy Agency (2010a) Energy technology perspectives 2010- Executive summary. Accessed 15 May 2011
  24. IEA—International Energy Agency (2010b) Energy technology perspectives 2010- Key graphs. Accessed 15 May 2011
  25. Johnson MW, Suskewicz J (2009). How to jump-start the clean tech economy. Harv Bus Rev 87(11):52–60Google Scholar
  26. Johnson MW, Christensen CM, Kagermann H (2008) Reinventing your business model. Harv Bus Rev 86(12):51–59Google Scholar
  27. Kagermann H, Österle H (2006) Geschäftsmodelle 2010- Wie CEOs Unternehmen transformieren. Ecological Economics. Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch, Frankfurt a. M.Google Scholar
  28. Kaufmann S (2010) Kundenpräferenzen für Smart Metering. MA Thesis, University of St GallenGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim H-W, Chan HC, Gupta S (2007) Value-based adoption of mobile internet: An empirical investigation. Decis Support Syst 43:111–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kotler P (1997) Marketing management: Analysis, planning and control, 9th edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  31. Kranz J, Gallenkamp J, Picot A (2010) Exploring the Role of Control—Smart Meter Acceptance of Residential Consumers. Proceedings of the 16th American Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) Lima (August 12–15, 2010):1–9Google Scholar
  32. Lastovicka JL, Gardner DM (1978) Low involvement versus high involvement cognitive structures. In: Hunt KH (ed) Advances in consumer research, vol 5. Association for Consumer Research, Ann Arbor, MI, pp 87–92Google Scholar
  33. Laurent G, Kapferer J-N (1985) Measuring consumer involvement profiles. J Mark Res 22(1):41–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Loock M (2011a) Going beyond best technology and lowest price: On renewable energy investors’ preference for service-driven business models. Energy Policy In Press, Corrected ProofGoogle Scholar
  35. Loock M (2011b) How do business models impact financial performance of renewable energy firms? In: Wuebker R, Wüstenhagen R (eds) Handbook of research on energy entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Publishing, Chettenham, pp 229–246Google Scholar
  36. Magretta J (2002) Why business models matter. Harv Bus Rev 80:86–92Google Scholar
  37. Miller D (1986) Configurations of strategy and structure: Towards a synthesis. Strategic Manag J 7(3):233–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Miller D (1996) Configurations revisited. Strategic Manag J 17(7):505–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Morris M, Schindehutte M, Allen J (2005) The entrepreneur’s business model: toward a unified perspective. J Bus Res 58:726–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Parasuraman A (1997) Reflections on gaining competitive advantage through customer value. J Acad Mark Sci 25(2):154–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. PikeResearch (2009) Smart Grid Investement to Total $ 200 Billion Worldwide by 2015. Accessed 20 Sept 2011
  42. Porter M (1985) Competitive advantage. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Ruiz DM, Barrosso Castro C, Armario EM (2007) Explaining market heterogeneity in terms of value perceptions. Serv Ind J 27(8):1087–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rust RT, Zeithaml VA, Lemon KN (2000) Driving customer equity. How customer lifetime value is reshaping corporate strategy. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Schoettl J-M, Lehmann-Ortega L (2011) Photovoltaic business models: Threat or opportunity for utilities? In: Wüstenhagen R, Wuebker R (eds) Handbook of research on energy entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Publishing, Chettenham, pp 145–172Google Scholar
  46. Schweizer L (2005) Concept and evolution of business models. J Gen Manag 31(2):37–56Google Scholar
  47. Sheth JN, Newman BI, Gross BL (1991) Why we buy what we buy: A theory of consumption values. J Bus Res 22:159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Slater S (1997) Developing a customer value-based theory of the firm. J Acad Mark Sci 25(2):162–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Strategier J, Hauttekeete L, De Marez L (2010) Introducing Smart grids in residential contexts: Consumers perception of smart household appliances. Proceedings of Innovative Technologies for an Efficient and Reliable Electricity Supply (CITRES), 2010 IEEE Conference, Waltham, MA (September 27–29, 2010):135–142Google Scholar
  50. Treacy M, Wiersema F (1995) The discipline of market leaders, vol 9. Addison-Wesley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Turel O, Serenko A, Bontis N (2010) User acceptance of hedonic digital artifacts: A theory of consumption values perspective. Inf Manag 47:53–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Weill P, Malone T, D’Urso V, Herman G, Woerner S (2005) Do Some Business Models Perform Better than Others? A Study of the 1000 Largest US Firms. Working Paper No 226. MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Center for Coordination Science. Accessed 28 July 2009
  53. Wiedmann K-P, Hennigs N, Siebels A (2009) Value-Based segmentation of luxury consumption behavior. Psychol Mark 26(7):625–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wolsink M (2011) The research agenda on social acceptance of distributed generation in smart grids: Renewable as common pool resources. Renew Sustain Energy Rev, doi:10.1016/j.rser.2011.09.006Google Scholar
  55. Woodruff R (1997) Customer value: The next source for competitive advantage. J Acad Mark Sci 25(2):139–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wüstenhagen R, Boehnke J (2008) Business models for sustainable energy. In: Tukker A, Charter M, Vezzoli C, Sto E, Andersen MM (eds) system innovation for sustainability 1. perspectives on radical changes to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, pp 85–94Google Scholar
  57. Wüstenhagen R, Wolsink M, Bürer M-J (2007) Social acceptance of renewable energy innovation: An introduction to the concept. Energy Policy 35:2683–2691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zeithaml VA (1988) Consumer perceptions of price, quality, and value: A means-end model and synthesis of evidence. J Mar 52(3):2–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zott C, Amit R (2007) Business model design and the performance of entrepreneurial firms. Org Sci 18(2):181–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zott C, Amit R (2008) The fit between product market strategy and business model: Implications for firm performance. Strategic Manag J 29(1):1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zott C, Amit R (2010) Designing your future business model: An activity system perspective. Long Range Plan Special 43:216–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans C. Curtius
    • 1
  • Karoline Künzel
    • 1
  • Moritz Loock
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWÖ-HSG)University of St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations