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Edited by Rolf Wüstenhagen and Robert Wuebker
Chapter 14: Challenges of Doing Market Research in the New Energy Market
Roland Abold 1 INTRODUCTION Following an EU directive, European energy markets are gradually being transformed from monopoly markets into open markets (Matlary, 1996). As the liberalization of the electricity and natural gas markets has filtered down to the consumer level in most European countries since the 1990s, new suppliers and a huge loss of customers for the traditional utilities have changed the market from a supplier into a consumer market. In consequence, energy providers increasingly have to deal with individual consumer profiles and fluctuating buying behaviour. These trends, which are also present on several other markets such as insurance and telecommunications, are now apparent in the energy market. Suppliers must decide whether to focus on price or quality and topics such as environmental protection and sustainability, in order to develop appropriate marketing and communication strategies. The (at least partial) opening of the European markets for power and natural gas has created a growing research area for market researchers and analysts. Initially, customer satisfaction studies as well as market potential and market segmentation studies were the first tools used by a broad range of players in the market (see Kahmann and König, 2000). Now the range of studies conducted in this research field comprises all relevant services relating to customer retention, customer acquisition, identification of new services, product development, price optimization, communication research (testing and measuring the success of communication activities) and strategic brand management. Market research also supports regional sales planning with micro-geographic approaches and other customized studies (see...
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