It’s fast approaching the six-month mark from when the water market first opened to competition. Expectedly, organisations are beginning to analyse how the first six months have gone in an attempt to figure out the next steps and what may happen in the future.
One of those organisations is the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), who published the results of their survey on the 24th August 2017, which was conducted in July 2017. The survey was targeted at SMEs and aimed to understand the levels of awareness among SMEs with regard to the water market opening, and their likelihood to switch or at least explore their options.
The results of this piece of research indicate that approximately 43% of SMEs are aware they can now switch retailer and 52% of them were likely to explore their options (with 30% considering switching in the next 6 months). CCW concluded that the overarching result from the research was that more needs to be done by all in the water sector to reach out to small businesses and inform them of the ability to switch or negotiate a better deal.
You may also have seen or heard of our own research, conducted in May 2017 and published in July 2017, which also aimed to discover how SMEs are reacting to the change in the water market, their levels of awareness and their likelihood to explore their options. With similar sample sizes (as shown in the table below) and the same target market, it is pleasing to see our survey results verified by having similar statistics as the research from CCW.
The one main difference between the sample sizes is the low number of sole traders targeted by Wheatley, however, this was a conscious decision as the likelihood of a sole trader being eligible (as a proportion will be based in their own homes or gardens) or even benefitting from switching (as water costs would be very low for a single person) is very low. The concern that including a higher number of sole traders in the sample set may skew the results was too great when assessing the benefits vs risk. Greater emphasis was placed on the remaining three sizes of SMEs, which we believe gave us much more insightful responses.
The results from our own survey indicate 58% of SMEs are aware of the new competition in the water market and the ability to switch, and 28% are considering changing their water retailer in the next six months. We also included a section on value added services, such as bacteria testing and smart water meters, and how enticing they are to SMEs – and, whilst results were varied, 42% indicated value added services were more than somewhat influential in their search for a new retailer. The overall result from the research conducted was also in that more needs to be done in reaching out to the SMEs of England, perhaps further educating them in what the open market could mean for their organisation.
In summary, we have seen very similar results to the CCW research, and one cannot help but wonder if the different in levels of awareness between the two samples is partially down to the different proportions of sole traders targeted.
Either way, it is pleasing for ourselves to see that our efforts have been validated by the independent representative of all water consumers in England and Wales and reassuring to know we agree on the need for doing more in the way of SMEs.
You can view the research from CCW here.
And you can also view the research results from us, and download our whitepaper here.