IBM 2011 Global Utility Consumer Survey

Publication date
August 2011
Press Releases
Environment/Climate Change
Environmental Management
Free/Pay for content
IBM has conducted the “2011 Global Utility Consumer Survey” to better understand the wants and needs of energy consumers worldwide. The study explores key influences, perceptions, knowledge and expectations of approximately 10,000 energy consumers across 15 countries, and in nine different languages. The aim of the survey was to take a different approach to what other vendors are exploring, and instead, focus not on what consumers wanted to see emerge in the future, but on what their expectations are today.

The fifteen countries include Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Key Findings

1. Saving money was noted as having the one of the highest level of influence, behind consumers making changes to their energy usage behavior (62%), though it was no longer the dominating factor. This was consistent with almost all of the countries in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

2. National economic considerations were important to more respondents (51-55%) than environmental and natural resource considerations (43-51%), although how these two ranked relative to each other differed by age group.

3. Information sent directly to the consumer by the provider (bill and inserts) remained the top reported single influence across all of the countries with more than one-third of consumers using energy bills and inserts to  source information about energy costs, environmental impact, and alternative suppliers.

4. Reliance on traditional media (television, newspapers/magazines, etc.), internet-based sources (non-provider web sites, social media, etc.), and opinions of friends and family in aggregate outweigh the influence of direct-contact sources like bill inserts and provider web sites. 

5. Most of the relative rankings of information sources remained consistent across age groups, but a few notable exceptions emerged.  The two most significant age variations were found in the influence of government information sources (ranked fifth among those 35 or older, eighth among those 25-34, and last among those 18-24) and friends and family (fifth among those 18-34, seventh among those 35-54, and ninth among those 55 and over).

1. Slightly more than 30% of consumers reported that they were unaware of the basic unit of charge for energy consumption (e.g., cents per kwh) while 5% can not identify their own energy provider.

2. Approximately 50% do not have any understanding of the term “time of use pricing.”

3. 60% do not know the meaning of the terms “smart grid” or “smart meters,” and 80% are unaware of “consumer energy portals.”

4. More than half of the respondents do not know if their energy provider has a green energy program that is available to them – and almost a quarter of those who participate in green energy programs have no idea if they pay a premium for that power, or how much more they pay.

5. Customers who were most knowledgeable were 42% more likely to have a positive opinion of local deployment programs underway or proposed, 51% more likely to believe that these programs would bring benefits to their family, and 64% more likely to change energy usage patterns to meet specific goals. 

1. 42% of consumers are committed to engaging more with their providers to meet their personal goals and objectives, while 33% are not likely to take added responsibility for these decisions in the short to mid term
2. More than 50% of consumers worldwide expect the deployment of smart grids and smart meters to foster development of clean energy technologies, and over 60% believe that these technologies will benefit their families.