AEG’s custom market research group provides electric and gas utility industry clients with a wide range of reliable, high-quality, research services designed to provide the capability to answer any question about the current and / or future state of the market.
The group uses a variety of market research methodologies (including mail / telephone / online surveys, “big data” predictive analytics, in-person / online focus groups / in-depth interviews) and analytics (from simple crosstabs / banners to sophisticated predictive program optimization and customer targeting algorithms) to answer these questions.
- Product / Service / Program / Pricing Design Optimization
- Market Potential Estimation
- Decision Process Analysis
- Customer / Market Segmentation and Targeting Analysis
- Marketing Communications Support
- Customer Satisfaction / Engagement analysis
- Appliance / Equipment Saturation
- Process Evaluation
Product / Service / Program / Pricing Design Optimization
The key questions in this area focus around understanding the best combination of program features and pricing levels that would generate the greatest customer response at the best net cost to the utility. The AEG market research team uses a variety of research and analytic tools (including discrete choice analysis) to explore the impact that changing levels of product features or pricing levels would have on customer response. These analytics are critical because while “better” program features (e.g., higher rebate levels, shorter control periods, higher levels of customer service) almost always create higher levels of customer response, these relationships are not always (or even typically) linear. As a result, having a detailed understanding of exactly how customers will react to different program design options (alone and in combination with other features) is essential to designing efficient programs that optimize customer response within sometimes constrained project budgets.
Market Potential Estimation
Market potential estimation involves predicting how many customers are likely to actually acquire a given product or program option within a given time period. Making predictions is easy, of course, but making accurate predictions is more complex, especially given the fact that in survey responses people tend to over-estimate the likelihood that they will take future actions (this is the well-recognized “say – do” problem). The AEG market research team has spent years developing measurement tools and analytic techniques that make it possible to develop more realistic estimates of market potential for a wide variety of programs, products, and services.
Decision Process Analysis
Understanding the process by which customers make EE (or other) decisions is often critical in clarifying how best to market EE or DR programs since it is only by developing good insight into how and when customers make these decisions (and what types of people and information have the biggest influence on their decisions) can a utility, or other market actor, decide best how to act in order to influence those decisions. The AEG market research team has developed considerable expertise in using creative market research techniques to provide superior insight into the steps that customers go through as they consider participating in a new EE / DR program and the informational elements that affect them at each step.
Customer / Market Segmentation and Targeting Analysis
It is often challenging to determine how best to group customers in ways that help an EE / DR program provider to think about what to offer them and how to best deliver those options. The AEG custom market research team has conducted dozens of segmentation analyses over the last 20 years, developing customized segmentation models that use behavioral, psychographic, demographic / firmographic, or other information separately, and in combination. These segmentation models have been used to help design new programs, develop new marketing content, and target marketing efforts on those customers most likely to respond to a new program offering.
Marketing Communications Support
Given the constraints on utility marketing efforts, it can be challenging for electric and / or gas utilities to most efficiently design the appropriate content for marketing messages and to find the best channels to use in delivering these messages to customers (including the use of new media). Over the last 20 years, AEG staff have conducted dozens of primary market research studies which have been used to inform decisions about how best to communicate with customers with the goal of promoting participation in energy efficiency and / or demand response programs.
Customer Satisfaction / Engagement Analysis
Customer satisfaction measurement and customer satisfaction management have long been issues for electric and gas utilities and the AEG team has been working on these issues for more than 20 years. Less focused on satisfaction tracking, and more focused on understanding how utilities can best work to enhance the relationship that customers have with the company, AEG has used primary market research to develop tools and mechanisms that don’t just promote generic customer satisfaction initiatives, but focus on optimizing investments in customer satisfaction that are likely to have the best “return” on customer response. Leveraging this prior experience, the AEG team has also conducted studies that help to outline paths to encourage greater customer engagement with energy efficiency on a day-to-day basis whether through the use of social media, or through other, more traditional, mechanisms.
Appliance / Equipment Saturation
The AEG team has conducted dozens of appliance saturation surveys with residential customers, as well as nearly as many equipment saturation surveys with non-residential customers. These surveys have been completed using online panel samples, mail surveys, mail-to-web surveys, and telephone surveys, as well as multi-modal methodologies. The AEG team has also been a leader in finding ways to design and implement novel questionnaire approaches for these types of surveys which optimize the validity of customer responses across appliance and equipment types.
For more than 15 years, AEG has been a leader in conducting process evaluations as part of broader program evaluation efforts. The primary market research we have conducted as part of process evaluation efforts have included in-depth interviews with utility staff, regulators, customers, retailers, manufacturers, and other market actors, focus groups, surveys of program participants and non-participants, and other research activities.