At CHARGE 2016, Tomaz Oresic, Chairman of the board at Elektro Maribor, presented on the current outlook of the electricity supply value chain is going through major changes, with new players entering the market, shift of perception of electricity as a basic commodity and how the customer is increasingly being put at the very centre. These disruptive trends are changing the old electric utility business model with the result of an increasing number of utilities starting to pay more attention to branding.
Tomaz points out that utilities have been marketing an almost invisible product to an undefined customer with top-down communication strategies. These engagement strategies have often failed since the electricity suppliers have not walked the talk and due to mismatched communication.
Energy utilities are facing a brave new world. The deregulation of markets and unbundling of utilities, privatisation and new and different ways of generating electricity on a mass scale have all shaken the reality of the energy companies.
The energy companies are also facing a new challenge; the customer. The customer has the tools of mass information and mass communication in his pocket and has more choices of interaction with brands than ever in history.
Giuseppe Caltabiano is the Vice President of Marketing Integration at Schneider Electric. He gave a presentation on how content marketing and social media are changing the way brands communicate to customers. He went over the basics of storytelling in the new media and what type of content consumers seek out.
Bente Engesland, Senior VP of Corporate Communication at Statkraft from Norway, is fully aware of how fast times are changing in energy and how impactful the changing environment is for the energy space.
The traditional energy companies are faced with more disruptive changes in the next five years than in the preceding 50 years.
Bente mentioned three big factors having a lasting effect on the energy utilities:
- Population growth
- Environmental factors
- Technological factors
Although Statkraft has a strong tradition of producing green, sustainable energy, the company is facing similar challenges as every other energy producers around the world; communicating with key stakeholders and the public in an effective understandable manner.
Branding does not only apply to utilities in the competitive part of the energy market. Though the transmission and distribution grids have a monopoly on delivering energy to the end consumer, management within those companies are becoming more and more aware of the importance of creating a valuable brand rather than running an arrogant utility.
That is why T&D needs more B&I (Branding & Innovation.
The monopolies are at risk of losing bits of the base of their service; providing homes with an access to electricity. With advances in technology, more and more homeowners have the choice of never connecting to the grid. There needs to be a reason for a new home being connected to the grid. If the choice is between paying to be connected to the grid or paying a similar amount to set up an on-roof generation with free power, there is no reason to connect at all. A distributor that has a clear value proposition and a clear marketing message for the consumer has a better chance of being relevant in the mind of the consumer.
T&D’s that are suddenly faced with a growing number of prosumers need to realise their changed role and need to know how to communicate with end consumers. The prosumer is not an energy professional and technical terms need to be made understandable and clear for the regular prosumer.
There will be a track dedicated to the branding of transmission and distribution. The speakers we have gathered will each present their case on why branding is important for their operations and their presentations will be followed by a panel discussion. The companies they represent have somewhat different roles in their communities but they all play their roles through a powerful and well-crafted brands. The track will include Marko Kruithof – Director of Innovation at Stedin (Netherlands), Helle Andersen – Head of communication at Energinet (Denmark), Fintan Slye – CEO of Eirgrid (Ireland) and Jukka Ruusunen – CEO of Fingrid (Finland).
The conference will conclude at the Blue Lagoon with a dinner and an awards ceremony. We will be awarding the best energy brand within the T&D sector to put the spotlight on brands that are an example of great branding.
Remember to sign up for CHARGE which will take place in Iceland, September 19th-20th. You can find more info on www.branding.energy