Survey: Interest Grows In Bundled Services
Consumers are becoming more interested in buying energy,
communications and other services in one-stop package deals, a
recent national survey has found. However, customers expect any
"bundled" products and services to be offered at a discount of at
least 5%, according to the survey. In fact, interest in specific
packages increases in direct proportion to the depth of the
discount. Overall, customers assume that combining products and
services in a package over a single brand will add value and create
economies of scale
Some of the customers most interested in new product and service
bundles are least satisfied with their current energy provider.
Conversely, customers most satisfied with their energy and long
distance providers are much less interested in combined products
The survey was conducted by RKS Research & Consulting of
North Salem, NY. The RKS sample consisted of 804 residential and
406 small business customers across the United States.
"From this rigorous process, we surfaced significant interest in
consumer-generated bundles of energy and telecommunications
products and services from a single source," said Charleen Heidt,
vice president in charge of RKS residential research. "These are
not mass markets, but clearly niche segments that will require
highly tailored promotional strategies. And where customer
satisfaction is low, a substantial investment will be required to
establish and improve relationships in advance of any product or
The survey found residentials are receptive to packaged
energy-related offerings consisting of heating and air conditioning
repair and maintenance, home appliance repair and electrician's
services under the brand umbrella of their local energy supplier.
Small business customers showed interest in power quality
consulting and energy audits. And both groups are disposed to turn
first to their local energy provider for these additional services.
Both groups also are open to packages of
telecommunications-related products and services from their energy
provider. Residential customers would consider local and long
distance telephone service, cable or satellite television service
in a bundle with electricity. Small business customers are equally
receptive, except that they would include Internet access instead
of television in their preferred package.
"These findings demonstrate the equity value of the local energy
supplier's image and reputation," said Heidt. "Based on the
responses of the customers we sampled, a combination of a respected
energy provider, linked up with a credible national brand to offer
discounted telecommunications services, would be a potent entrant
in these emerging markets."
RKS found customers link other products and services into
possible packages. These include "smart" thermostats, home
automation, surge protection and security systems; carbon monoxide
and smoke detectors, air filtration systems; Internet access,
long-distance, and advanced television/data systems; heating, air
conditioning, equipment installation and repair and duct cleaning;
distributed and backup generation, fuel cells, photovoltaics, UPS
systems; and energy/air quality audits, plus air filter repair and
replacement. "Each of these potential packages appeals to a
different segment of our small business and residential customer
sample," Heidt said.
"Some of these products and services come together logically,
while others seem more convenient and efficient to customers if
they were offered through a single source. The challenge for energy
providers is to determine which of these segments warrants an
increased investment in marketing - then start the process of
educating these customers about the value and benefits of the
broader portfolio of products and services."
Joe Fisher, Houston