There is a strong appetite among consumers to buy their gas and electricity from ‘lifestyle services companies’, new research reveals. Experts predict that the increasing digitisation of the energy sector, such as the current roll-out of smart meters to every home across Great Britain, will soon make it possible for supermarkets, online retailers, film subscription services, broadband providers and even banks, to provide energy as part of wider package of lifestyle services.

In a move away from traditional suppliers, many people said they would be interested in buying energy from companies such as broadband providers like BT, supermarkets such as Tesco and TV subscription services like Sky. Almost one fifth of people (18%) said they would be interested in buying it from a music streaming service such as Spotify.

The research, Consumer attitudes to Lifestyle Service Companies, by Smart Energy GB, also found that:

  • People with a smart meter were more likely to find the idea of buying energy as part of a ‘lifestyle’ package appealing (58 per cent as opposed to 50 per cent)
  • Half of those surveyed (50 per cent) found the idea of buying energy as part of a lifestyle package appealing
  • The concept is even more appealing to 18 – 34s, with almost two thirds (63 per cent) saying they found it appealing
  • Around half of those surveyed would be interested in buying energy as part of a package from broadband providers (49 per cent) or supermarkets (48 per cent), with other potential suppliers also being of interest
  • Additional benefits for buying energy as part of a package to make it more appealing are when there is a financial advantage such as cost savings (81 per cent) or benefits such as discount vouchers (74 per cent)

Dr Jeff Hardy, senior research fellow at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said: “Lifestyle service companies could transform tomorrow’s energy markets, competing to deliver what their customers need. Whether these are today’s energy companies or new entrants from other sectors will largely depend on who understands their customers best.

“Clearly there is an opportunity for consumer-focused energy companies to mobilise data and digitalisation to deliver services that are in tune with the way customers live their lives, although there are regulatory, market design and consumer protection issues that will need to be addressed along the way.”

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, the independent organisation supporting the roll-out of smart meters, added: “This research provides a hugely exciting glimpse, for businesses and consumers, into what a future with a fully digitised energy infrastructure will look like. Not only will our home services become more streamlined, but a world of possibilities will open up when it comes to buying gas and electricity.

“That future isn’t as far away as you might think – the option to buy energy in a different way, from a different type of company, is a key benefit of smart meters. Not only that, but the enthusiasm of smart meter users for lifestyle service packages is further evidence that the smart meter rollout is an essential step on the path to a smarter world.”