Energy Providers Risk Being Left Behind, As Malaysians Become Cost Conscious

Energy is now top of mind for consumers as it increasingly impacts their lifestyles and their wallet. This is according to the EY Energy transition consumer insights report , which surveyed 70,000 residential energy consumers across 18 markets over two years, including 4,000 consumers in Malaysia. The research shows that 79% of Malaysian consumers are more interested in reducing their energy costs and consumption today compared to a year ago, by monitoring their energy usage (77%), reducing environmental impact (76%), and purchasing new energy products and services (66%) as the key focus areas among the consumers.

This year’s insights EY said reveals that a critical mass of consumers has now joined the “omnisumer” category – i.e., a person or business entity who participates in a dynamic energy ecosystem across a multitude of places, solutions, and providers. Nearly three-quarters of Malaysian consumers (71%) say they would prefer multiple energy solution providers over a single one, and more than 25% would turn to a company such as a green charity, solar provider, or home improvement retailer over their energy provider when it comes to solutions. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers have already invested or plan to invest in products that change their energy lifestyles – 90% in energy efficient appliances; 78% in energy efficient windows, doors and insulation; 36% in automatic home cooling; and 25% in an electric vehicle.

Mark Bennett, EY Asia-Pacific Energy & Resources Customer Experience Transformation Leader, says: “Energy’s central role in our lives has never been clearer and, for consumers, the issue is now personal. Rising prices, security concerns, and the decarbonisation agenda have hit home and passive energy consumers are no more. We are starting to see fundamental changes in how consumers in Malaysia and more broadly Asia, engage with, think about, and use energy.

Confidence shaken but sustainability engagement is resilient
In all aspects of their energy experience, consumer confidence has been deeply shaken, creating potential barriers to the energy transition. Only 58% of Malaysian consumers are confident that their energy provider will create value for them and their community in the future, and less still (54%) are confident in the affordability of their energy in the next three years.

Conversely, consumer engagement in sustainability is resilient, with more than a half (57%) of Malaysians willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services – up from 46% last year.  Interestingly, 62% of Malaysians admit to a degree of “carbon tracking”, whereby they adopt positive energy-saving measures and mentally “bank” the carbon they believe they have saved, but then offset this with conflicting behaviors that go against their energy-saving actions.  Therefore, there remains more work to be done to help educate consumers on energy transition. This is supported by less than a quarter saying they have a good understanding of terminologies such as “carbon neutral,” “sustainability, and “net zero”, which remains unchanged since last year’s survey, despite media attention on the energy crisis and climate change.

Bennett says: “It is clearer than ever that it is the consumer who will play the most critical role in creating a sustainable energy future. And while consumer engagement in energy has never been higher, there is much more they will need to do. Energy security and affordability remain foundational expectations among consumers. However, more are now looking to their energy provider to demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability while enhancing consumer engagement through a wider range of personalized products and services.”

Energy experience out of step with consumer transformation
Almost all Malaysian consumers are making some changes to their lifestyles to reduce energy and save money, time, and the planet. However, the energy experience of today is out of step with the speed and breadth of the consumer transformation that is underway. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of consumers are not satisfied or only partially satisfied with the performance of their energy provider when it comes to new energy products and service experiences.

However, opportunities do exist for those energy providers who find ways to engage and inspire change. Ninety-three percent of Malaysians tell us they want their energy providers to offer support and advice about new energy products and services, and they still turn to providers first when purchasing new energy solutions.

Bennett says: “Energy providers can do more to support consumers amid ongoing uncertainty and change. Investing in the capabilities that will help consumers move forward on their energy journey is a no-regret action. Providers cannot go back, stand still or even slow down. Transforming the customer experience is now an imperative for survival.”

EY believes energy providers can seize consumer momentum now and light the path ahead through six no-regrets strategic imperatives that reinvent the energy experience, build a foundation for tomorrow, and engage and inspire consumers.

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