Millennials are Powering Change in Energy

At our Energy Executive Forum in 2015, many of you may recall discussing millennials, referring to them as renters, cord cutters, digital natives, stay-at-home types, and preferring access to ownership. Millennials are the largest generation in US history (bigger than the “boomers”), with radically different value systems and behaviors than their parents. This generation is expected to have a huge impact on the economy and is poised to drive a world of changes in the energy space.

That day has arrived, and the current reality is more nuanced, demonstrating that consumer surveys may be good at finding blind spots, but this is not enough to fully understand what consumers want. Indeed, recent data show that millennials are moving out of mom’s basement and are embracing home ownership — half of all homes sold in the US are purchased by millennials. They’re buying everything else too, from SUVs, to voice-activated appliances, and the electricity that powers everything. In short, millennials have grown up. How can utilities and energy providers take action to capitalize on this new reality?

Consider that:

  • Millennials’ interest in energy-saving programs and offers far exceeds the interest of non-millennials. (1)
  • 47% of millennials find time-of-use rate offerings extremely/very motivating. (2)
  • 9 in 10 would view an energy dashboard from their utility. Over 50% would actually change their behavior because of it. (3)

Connecting to millennials will require utilities to offer: new products, new ways of engaging customers, and new ways to make energy use and monitoring easy. We need to meet millennials where they are, with choices that put them in the driver’s seat. A good example of this is PGE pilot that simultaneously tests 12 different Demand Response rate structures.

There are roughly 90 million millennials in the US, representing a massive opportunity for energy providers—or an equally large headache. Are energy providers ready to meet the expectations of a generation that is used to flexible products, to instant access to product information, price comparisons and peer reviews?

Navigating the energy Convergence, with many different industry sectors competing for the same customer, requires this kind of experimentation. Including millennials in the discovery process makes them less of a target for marketing, and more of a co-creator, opening the door to customer validation and permission.

Do you have the millennials in mind when devising technological or business innovation initiatives? Do you believe millennials will shape the energy Convergence? Please share your thinking on our website, or contact us directly for a conversation.


Carole Barbeau

President, Energy Advisory Region Americas




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