Know thy (low income) customer

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Utilities are struggling to understand their customers -- transitioning from a perception of customers as "ratepayers" to that of customers as "consumers" of energy services.

"Know thy customer" takes on a whole new meaning in today's utility climate from consumer smart grid awareness, perceptions and education to segmentation through marketing, programs and communication. New research findings can help utilities know their "low-income customer" just a bit better.

Perhaps because of socioeconomic status, low-income consumers are skeptical of smart grid technology. But despite this status, they should be made aware of smart grid benefits by utilities with the opportunity to capitalize on a largely untapped segment of the population who can reduce demand across the grid.

Research from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) concludes that low-income energy consumers are less aware of electric grid modernization technology than the general population but find its benefits compelling nonetheless.

For example, low-income customers support smart grid enabled pricing programs such as time of use and critical peak pricing just as much as the "general population" and are a good target market for such programs. However, pay-as-you-go programs are traditionally marketed to the low-income community which the results portray as leery of such programs.

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