Shining A Light On Energy Providers In NZ: What Makes Kiwis Switch?

Shining A Light On Energy Providers In NZ: What Makes Kiwis Switch?

Competition to light up Kiwi homes is high, with new energy companies bringing their offerings to the table. Across New Zealand there are more than 30, together spending over $33 million on advertising in 2017.

Solar companies are also contributing to the competitive environment – an option that is becoming more popular as Kiwis are increasingly concerned with their impact on a clean, green New Zealand. In the last two years, there’s been an 18% increase in the number of New Zealanders who say there’s not enough done to protect the environment. Now, more than two million Kiwis agree with this sentiment, and it is also being reflected in an increase in homes installing solar power. 161,000 Kiwis have or are intending to install solar power in the next 12 months.

161,000 Kiwis have or are intending to install solar power in the next 12 months.

With so much competition for energy suppliers in New Zealand, it’s imperative to understand: who are the unsatisfied customers? Who are the at-risk customers? And where do we find them?

The Satisfied: New Zealanders are generally satisfied with the level of service they receive from their power company. Six-in-10 (63%) of people are currently satisfied with their energy provider, 30% are indifferent, and 7% are dissatisfied. The top three energy providers based on satisfaction are Energy Online, Just Energy and TrustPower, all with a satisfied customer base of over 65%.

The dissatisfied: Every energy provider has a chunk of clients that are dissatisfied; ranging from 4-8% of their customer base. Customers dissatisfied with their current energy provider are more likely to be households with kids, often larger households; they also tend to be in tougher financial circumstances. Just one third of people who are dissatisfied with their current provider are willing to switch soon though.

The difference between the two: There are a few key differences between those who are dissatisfied and intending to switch and those who are dissatisfied but not switching – the key one being age. Customers who are older are less likely to remain with an energy company that they’re dissatisfied with. These customers tend to be more organised with their money and in more comfortable financial circumstances.

The status quo is no longer enough though, and satisfaction and switching are not necessarily linked. Energy providers need to look at the switchers’ behaviour, because a whopping 44% of people who are intending to switch provider in the next 12 months are actually reasonably satisfied with their current provider. With competitive advertising in the market, and alternatives like solar power, the option; the ease and the benefits of switching are regularly being communicated to consumers.

Understanding which consumers to engage with – who is primed to switch, who is satisfied or not, and where to reach them is incredibly important in driving loyalty and enticing new customers.

Sources: Nielsen Consumer & Media Insights 2017 (15+) and Nielsen Ad Intel 2017


In this environment, breadth of understanding of consumer attitudes, media consumption and their day to day behaviours is essential. Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights provides views of consumers you want to identify, understand and then reach. Meaning you don’t rely on too narrow a view of a customer. The data is gathered via an independently audited survey of 11,000 New Zealanders aged 10+. It uses mixed methodology of face-to-face (75%) and online (25%) interviews, combined with a self-completion diary. The sample is then weighted to Statistics NZ population data for national representation.