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Analyzing customer reviews to find out why green energy suppliers are increasingly popular

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Green energy has long been a hot topic. Yet it’s only over this past couple of years that we have begun to see it filter into the mainstream. With consumers becoming increasingly aware of the impact energy has on the environment, greener options are gaining prominence and causing more people to switch.

Green energy suppliers offer 100% renewable electricity as a standard, in addition to providing carbon-neutral gas to their customers. These challenger brands have shaken up the energy industry and continue to chip away at market share.

But who are these green energy providers, why have they become so popular and what’s behind the trend? We wanted to dig deeper into customer insights examples and opinions regarding green energy and understand what’s potentially causing people to switch.  

Comparative methodology

To do this, we used Relative Insight’s comparative text analysis software to analyze the customer review data of three green energy suppliers – Ovo Energy, Bulb and Octopus – to three of their mainstream competitors – EDF, E.ON and British Gas.

Relative Insight utilizes comparison to highlight the words, phrases, topics, grammar and emotion prevalent in one data set over another. This method of customer review analysis enables us to understand the unique selling points of green energy providers, and what mainstream energy brands can learn from their upstart competitors.

Green energy suppliers

Commitment to sustainability
The refreshing value proposition of green energy providers is, of course, creating energy that has a positive impact on climate change. But what’s interesting is that this brand messaging clearly resonates with audiences. Customers are 12.8x more likely to mention green issues and the environment throughout their reviews. Words such as carbon footprint, planet, eco, sustainable and ethical appear, highlighting that green energy customers are participating in the wider conversation of sustainability.

insight card showing customers speaking about sustainable energy

Exceptional customer service
Great customer service builds positive customer relationships. In the customer review data of green energy providers, we found that customers were 6.2x more likely to mention excellent customer service. An insight that was prominent across all three brands. Positive adjectives such as kindness, approachable, friendly and helpful further depict this, suggesting that these challenger brands are going above and beyond to create an exceptional customer experience.

insight card showing customers review data mentions good customer service

Easy to use, easy to switch
Many green energy providers encourage online account management and app use. Customers point out how easy, simple and straightforward these apps are to use, highlighting how digital innovations have enhanced their experience. Customer review data also mentioned the ease of switching suppliers, which is important for attracting new customers who may be cautious of complications.

insight card showing customers speaking about easy to use apps

In comparison to the reviews of mainstream energy suppliers, customers value green providers for their competitive rates. Online reviews included words such as cheapest, value and transparent, suggesting that customers knew exactly what they were getting – no hidden costs or prices.

insight card showing customers speaking about savings

Brand advocacy
Brand advocacy is one of the most valuable marketing strategies, as it means that existing customers authentically vouch for your service or product. A key linguistic insight we found was that green energy customers are 4.1x more likely to recommend. Humans trust the opinions of their friends and family, and so recommendations are essential for organic growth. The fact that green energy customers are passionate advocates for Ovo, Octopus and Bulb shows that these brands have nurtured their customer relationships into mutually supportive ones.

insight card showing customers recommending green energy suppliers

Legacy energy providers

In this comparison, the reviews of legacy energy providers were used as a baseline to compare against. However, we found some key customer insights.

People who currently use mainstream energy providers have a lot of frustration. Negative emotions were 2.5x more likely to appear throughout reviews, such as anger, discontent, sadness and dissatisfaction. This often stemmed from poor customer service, with reviewers more likely to use words such as rude, unprofessional and useless, as well as commenting on long wait times for problems to be resolved.

In a bid to retain and attract new customers, many legacy energy providers are offering their own form of ‘green tariff.’ However, it can be confusing for the environmentally-conscious consumer to understand what energy is truly green. Legacy suppliers should learn from the transparent and honest communications of their competitors and avoid greenwash marketing.

What can mainstream energy suppliers learn?

Big legacy energy providers have the resources to adapt. And when it comes to sustainability and renewable energy, it’s essential that these industry giants keep up.

From this competitor analysis, we can see why green energy suppliers are succeeding: great customer service and innovations in digital, transparency on cost and environmental impact, and simply creating a loyal customer base who advocate for brands that they believe in. These are the lessons that mainstream energy providers can learn from the customer review data of smaller competitors, that will help them to win back consumers and remain in the game.

Join us Wednesday, June 30 at 4:00 pm BST / 11:00 am EDT for our next Spotlight Series webinar “Sustainability: Tracking the ever-changing vernacular”. Register now to attend and learn how your brand or agency can successfully target eco-conscious audiences.

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