Industry Market Trends

Energy Survey Exposes a Lack of Consumer Understanding

September 2, 2011

 The 2011 IBM Global Utility Consumer Survey revealed what many people may have already figured out: "many consumers around the globe do not understand the basic unit of electricity pricing and other energy concepts used by energy providers."

Surveying more than 10,000 people worldwide, IBM investigated the wants and needs of energy consumers. The survey found that consumers are lacking the knowledge on how to reduce energy consumption and benefit from smarter energy initiatives. Examples of this lack of understanding are shown in that 30% of those polled have never heard of the term "dollar per kwh" or the equivalent currency, and more than 60% are unaware of smart grids or smart meters.

(Watch the video: IBM Energy Survey)

"There have been major strides with new energy saving technologies, new programs and incentives, but in many cases the market is seeing more confusion amongst consumers than expected," said Michael Valocchi, Vice President, Global Energy & Utilities Industry Leader for IBM Global Business Services. "This year's survey points to a need and an opportunity to go back to basics and educate consumers by using terms that they understand, behavioral triggers and channels they already use. People want to conserve energy; we just need to get better at showing them how."

Those with the most knowledge of energy technology, the survey showed, were more willing to embrace change and approve of local energy initiatives. Sixty-one percent of people with a strong knowledge of energy technology and pricing terms viewed smart meters and smart grid deployment plans positively, compared to only 43% of those with minimal knowledge.

The survey also showed that by understanding the human psychology of choice and decision making, the industry can identify the greatest barriers inhibiting change, discover opportunities for improvement; adopt new methods of communication and design programs that are in line with consumer demands.

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