Energy supplier E.ON has tapped brand purpose as a way to grab UK consumer attention in a low-interest category.

“People think about energy for eight minutes a year,” according to marketing and communications director Belinda Moore. “We haven’t got a lot of time to talk to our customers,” she told the recent Festival of Marketing.

Her task is made even more difficult in a regulated market where price is the main focus and where consumer trust is on a par with estate agents. At the same time, scrutiny of energy companies’ impact on climate change is rising.

“We have to change, we have to do thing differently. And that’s what we’re really trying to do with E.ON,” said Moore. (For more, read WARC’s report; E.ON: creating engaging advertising in a low-interest category.).

As with so many modern brands, E.ON’s efforts at transformation are driven by brand purpose. “For us, our why is to really build a better tomorrow and to improve people’s lives by delivering personalised energy solutions for all of our customers,” Moore explained.

“And, of course, it’s absolutely not just a communications strategy – it has to run through the whole organisation.”

She believes there are three steps in this process, including transforming the customer experience so they are less inclined to switch and not just listening to what customers say but acting on it.

E.ON has also looked again at who it wants to talk to and decided that rather than the mass market, it will shift its focus on to more affluent people who like technology and are somewhat interested in being eco-friendly.

That meant changing perception of the brand – something it achieved via an unexpected route as it showcased its air source heat pumps in a TV ad that imagined a swimming pool cityscape, heated by these little-known, little-sold products.

The aim wasn’t to sell more pumps, but to get people thinking of E.ON as an innovative, environmentally conscious company and it worked, as the 67% of the target audience (compared to 50% of E.ON customers and 46% of the market generally) agreed that ‘E.ON promotes the growth or renewable energy’.

“The messages that we wanted our customers to take out of it, they took out of it,” said Moore. “They didn’t just take away that product message, they understood this world of innovative energy solutions.”

Sourced from WARC