Introducing consumer choice was one of the key motivations underpinning the various public utility privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s, along with enhancing the quality of service provided to consumers. This was especially the case in electricity supply, where a timetable for the introduction of competition was included in the original legislation. However, evidence from the industry regulator suggests that consumers are proving reluctant to exercise choice, despite the intensity of the supply companies’ preparation and marketing campaigns. Indeed, a recent poll by MORI suggests that the number of consumers who have changed suppliers is approximately half that predicted by the industry. This paper, drawing on consumer behaviour theory, seeks to explain the reasons behind the apparent reluctance of consumers to change electricity provider, utilising market research data from both the UK and Germany.
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