Water Watchdog takes its second measure of SME retail water market awareness

Since April 2017, businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England have been able to choose the company that provides their retail water and wastewater services.

As the Water Watchdog, we believe the first step to market engagement is building good awareness among customers so they understand what’s on offer.

The Consumer Council for Water has now conducted its second survey of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) since the market opened to competition. It reveals just 2 out of 5 SMEs think they can switch water retailer.

This level of awareness has not moved since we published our first results in August 2017. With less than half of customers realising they have a choice of retailer, there’s lots of room for us to offer more advice to customer representative groups and encourage water retailers to reach out to their customers.

It is encouraging that, once customers became aware of the market, our research demonstrates that many were keen to explore their choices. Almost half (47%) said they’d looked for more information, with a third (31%) having negotiated a better deal with their current provider and around a quarter (24%) having switched supplier.

Larger customers tend to be more active than smaller customers, which is why we are focussing on SME awareness at this time.

In the coming months we will be publishing customer case studies to highlight the experiences of SMEs that have dipped into the market.

If you have any questions about the retail water market, please contact our Competition Team at marketreform@ccwater.org.uk