This year, millennials will overtake baby boomers as the largest living adult generation in the United States, growing to 73 million people. We’ve discussed what this means for new technologies and customer experience in the energy space, but what does it mean for homeownership? Furthermore, what does it mean for energy companies?
It means millennials are buying houses, and almost two-thirds have regrets. The biggest frustration? Underestimating the hidden costs associated with buying and owning a home, including ongoing maintenance.
That’s where energy comes in. Energy costs make up a large portion of yearly household expenses, from monthly utility bills to fixing or upgrading energy equipment. Energy expenses, combined with other unexpected costs for first-time homebuyers such as property taxes or insurance, can add up.
In conducting our own research, we were able to get some insights on the relationship this generation has with energy efficiency. We learned that millennials—defined as those born between 1981 and 1996—want to learn more about their energy efficiency options, but don’t know they have a resource to access offers. 78 percent said they would switch from their current energy provider to one that sourced more from renewables, and would even potentially pay more for cleaner energy sources if necessary.
Saddled with an unprecedented amount of debt, this generation’s homeowners are looking for ways to save on the costs of ownership, and are more dedicated than any previous generation to clean energy and technology options. What’s missing? After all this time, there is still a gap between millennials and an easily accessible, trusted voice—such as their utility—effectively delivering energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives to these homeowners and homebuyers.
The kicker here? If you are an energy company, millennials are already one of your largest and most attentive audiences. To that end, here are three things you can do right now to help bridge that gap and make the most of an opportunity to increase customer engagement:
- Don’t shy away from technology that makes the lives of this target audience easier. Did you know that older millennials are the core user demographic of smart speakers? Embracing smart technology as a way to communicate energy saving messaging to millennials puts energy companies in a unique space. Imagine being so present in your customers’ lives and so participatory in new technology that when Amazon’s Alexa is asked a question about time-of-use rates, for example, the answer that comes through the customer’s smart speaker is a helpful, concise piece of information from your company.
- Provide interesting, educational messaging on the platforms—and in the formats—that matter most to them. Bill inserts may not be the most effective way to engage millennials. Social media content served to them on their phones will be a better bet to grab their attention. Consider a content series that provides money-saving, easy energy efficiency tips and tricks on a weekly basis through Instagram stories, or a Facebook Live series in which customers can ask questions and have them answered in real time, by one of your team members.
- Be honest and humanize your brand. We’ve talked about the power of authenticity and humanizing your brand as a way to connect with customers in several past EnergyWire posts. For millennials, this is especially important. This generation of energy users will not settle for their energy company merely telling them that it is committed to increasing energy efficiency measures for homeowners in their local community. They want to see their energy company’s CEO out in the community, partnering with local businesses and residents to help make those energy efficiency and clean energy commitments a reality.
Your millennial customers are ready and waiting. Let us know how we can help you make the most of their attention.