Static water market awareness selling SMEs short - CCWater
Low awareness of the retail water market remains the biggest obstacle to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in England securing a better deal on price and service, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
The latest wave of SME research published by the Water Watchdog on Tuesday 18 September has found that only two out of five (41 per cent) non-household customers think they can switch their water provider, despite the market opening in England almost 18 months ago.
CCWater remains concerned that overall awareness levels have not shifted since July 2017 when it carried out the first of its three surveys to date tracking the views of SMEs.
Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “Customer awareness increased significantly ahead of the market opening but in the past year it appears to have hit a brick wall and that really concerns us.
“We know that once small businesses are aware they have a choice they are interested in exploring their options but at the moment too many are being sold short by a lack of awareness and information.”
When prompted, just a quarter of SMEs said they were aware that the water market in England had opened to retail competition in April 2017.
However, among SMEs that were aware of competition, almost half (45 per cent) had looked for information and a quarter had taken steps to switch supplier. Nearly a third (31 per cent) said they intended to switch in the next six months.
Larger businesses continue to be more active in exploring their choices, with medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees) around twice as likely as micro businesses (fewer than 10 employees) to have looked for market information, switched or negotiated a better deal.
CCWater said it will be renewing its own efforts to help raise awareness through working in partnership with influential representative bodies, including the Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and National Farmers’ Union. But the watchdog believes water retailers are best-placed to reach out to smaller businesses and help them understand how choice can benefit them.
One of the ways retailers can do this is by sharing positive case studies from their own customers that have benefitted from switching or renegotiating.
You can read the full survey results here.
- Non-household competition could benefit domestic water customers, says KPMG Increasing non-household competition will encourage water companies to seek new efficiencies that could also benefit their... Read More >
- SESW to enter Scottish water market Sutton and East Surrey Water (SESW) plans to move into the Scottish business retail market to help prepare for market... Read More >
- UK falling behind on innovation investment The UK is lagging well behind countries like Israel, Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands in water technology investment... Read More >
- The price of water As part of our Utility of the Future campaign, Robin Hackett looks at whether low water bills can be maintained long term Read More >
- Scottish Water starts planning for the long term For SR21, Scottish Water is moving away from the traditional approach to business plans and developing a blueprint for the... Read More >
- Football teams and water companies: Closer than you think New season, new league, new challenges... Egremont Group's Owen Quinn and Alex Graham on the parallels between football... Read More >
- Abstract concept: How can water companies reduce abstraction? Despite concerns over supplies, water companies face pressure to reduce abstraction. As part of our Utility of the Future... Read More >
- The end of 'business as usual' in the water sector? James Connolly, head of partnerships at digital asset and works management company eviFile, assesses the message coming... Read More >