How can a prepaid retail electricity service create a shared economic value among consumers, the government regulatory environment and the utility company?

How a combination of market research types and insights emerged as Win-win solutions for stakeholders?

By Meralco, the largest electricity distribution utility company in the Philippines, and Synergy Market Research + Strategic Consultancy.

Why?

Customer’s’ problems and assuring government’s regulatory body

Buying in small increments has always been a way of life for the Filipino people. Capitalizing on this, Meralco branded as K-Load, designed a solution by offering prepaid electricity where customers may buy their electricity in small denominations. Moreover, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the government’s regulatory body, needed to be reassured that the product is something that customers really needed and wanted.

How?

Combination of qualitative, quantitative , sub-segment analysis and tracking studies

Pre-launch, a combination of qualitative research using FGDs and face to face-to-face interviews were conducted in order to understand the pre-paid electricity service’s and to determine the potential incidence/plans, and marketing and communication plan.

Post-launch, a quantitative research using face-to-face interviews was done, to understand the entire customer journey of pilot customers. This was followed by a sub-segment comparative analysis from customer satisfaction tracking studies to benchmark satisfaction and consumption behaviour against existing postpaid customers of the same profile.

So what?

Win-win combination for customers, government and Meralco

The variety of methodologies has provided stakeholders with answers to particular objectives and for an enhanced customer experience. The research generated economic value for cash-strapped customers and previously disenfranchised households with their own legitimate electricity service which led to improved quality of life and sense of dignity for them.

The ERC/government was able to see the benefit of the service, which led to the approval of an initial 40,000 meters, and an additional 100,000 meters’ coverage to be rolled out in a wider area of Meralco franchise upon one year of the project’s approval.

For Meralco, the research generated savings in terms of operating costs and marketing spend; increased sales from incremental/new customers, and improved the company’s cash flow position with the decline in delayed payments; improved brand equity perception and resulted in higher customer satisfaction for Meralco.

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