Powering Strong Communities
Community Engagement

Report Examines Energy-Related Needs, Concerns of Small, Medium-Sized Businesses

Roughly three-quarters of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States are interested in participating in a demand response program (73 percent) or electrifying currently non-electric business operations (74 percent), according to a new survey from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that studies consumer and small business trends in the energy transition.

While many electricity providers have focused teams and account managers that work with the largest commercial and industrial customers to assist them in making the best use of energy resources, the large volume of small and medium-sized businesses “in most service areas often precludes this one-on-one approach, leaving them to navigate the complexities of energy options with minimal guidance, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative said.

The “Understanding the SMB Landscape: New Needs and Concerns” report – which is based on a 15-minute online survey of 750 energy decision-makers at businesses with fewer than 500 employees -- explores the characteristics, priorities and complexities of small and medium-sized businesses and offers recommended next steps for customer engagement for electricity providers and other industry stakeholders.

The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative said the new research developed four “personas” that highlight the key needs and priorities of small and medium-sized business customers in all their variety and provide insights that can help stakeholders develop effective engagement strategies:

  • Energized Enterprises have a preference for time-of-use  rates. They are engaged with their electricity usage and in programs from their providers. These businesses vary widely, reinforcing the need to understand and address unique business priorities.
  • Opportunistic Organizations are anchored in electricity being a large expense to the business. They participate in energy efficiency programs, but these programs need to fit business needs. Overall, this group offers a great growth opportunity for providers.
  • Small and Satisfied classify electricity as a small expense for the business. This typically means the business is small all around – fewer employees, smaller spaces and lower bills – and this presents less of a need for energy efficiency measures.
  • Entrenched Businesses are anchored in being well-established, typically having an account with their providers for over 11 years. Change is difficult for these larger, more established businesses, and participation in programs is the lowest across the personas.

On June 18 at 1 p.m. (ET), the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative will be hosting a one-hour Research Brief Webinar on the report’s key findings.