This study extends understanding of and demonstrates the importance of corporate branding in the energy sector. We analyse the relationship between branding and consumer switching behaviour among the UK’s Big Six electricity providers. Since privatisation companies have competed against each other, but to the consumer they often appear to have very similar product offerings; firms also face criticism from consumer groups regarding confusing and difficult to compare pricing schemes. This study examines the use of corporate branding to enhance differentiation and specifically examines the influence of brand consistency and brand personality on the retention of customers. Consumers, who find it difficult to compare tariffs, may be influenced by more demonstrable factors like branding. We demonstrate the importance of longitudinal brand consistency, as well as the personality dimension Excitement, which when communicated strongly has the greatest influence on customer retention levels. This work contributes to branding theory, demonstrating that brand personality does differentiate otherwise homogeneous (and low-contact) services. Managerial implications are presented for brands seeking to improve consumer retention.
Rutter, R., Chalvatzis, K., Roper, S., & Lettice, F. (2018). Branding Instead of Product Innovation: A Study on the Brand Personalities of the UK's Electricity Market. European Management Review, 15(2), 255-272. https://doi.org/10.1111/emre.12155