Consumer Switching Behaviour 2014

  • Over 80% of consumers who switched providers saved money
  • Switching mobile providers resulted in an average monthly saving of €24
  • Under 35s more likely to change providers often and avail of better deals

The National Consumer Agency published the results of research into the switching behaviours of consumers in Ireland. The research, conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes, examined consumer habits in relation to checking for better value, switching providers and the savings made as a result.

The research shows that 43% of respondents stated that they switched at least one product or service provider within the last year. Switching levels are highest for car insurance with 25% of consumers having switched providers in the last 12 months. This is followed by electricity provider (17%), gas provider (17%), gym membership (15%), main grocery shop (14%), and home insurance and broadband/internet provider (13% each).

Mobile phone users who switched providers reported saving an average of €24 a month. This is followed by electricity suppliers who saved an average of €21 per month, with car insurance and gas supply switchers both reporting an average monthly saving of €15. Broadband/internet switchers and home insurance switchers each showed an average monthly saving of €13.

A quarter of consumers reported that they ‘change companies often to avail of better deals’ or service whenever they can. A further 38% said that while they generally stick with the same companies they do ‘look around’ for other providers. Consumers under 35 stated that they are more likely to change providers often.

The research highlighted, however, that a significant number of consumers (36%) said that they ‘tend to stick’ to the same companies. Consumers over 65 are more likely to stick to the same providers.

Fergal O’Leary, Director of Consumer Contacts and Insights at the National Consumer Agency said that “While the research is positive in that many consumers are actively looking for better value, disappointingly there are still a significant number of consumers who don’t consider alternative providers. This is particularly the case when the savings made by switchers clearly highlight the benefits of taking time to research alternative providers. It is very likely that consumers are paying more than they need to by not checking regularly to see if there are better deals available to them.”

The research showed that 76% of consumers who have switched providers in the last year found the process ‘easy’. Consumers rated gas and electricity supply services as the easiest to switch. Switching bank/financial institutions was highlighted as the most difficult with only 55% of respondents saying that they found switching bank/financial institution easy.

Commenting on the results, Fergal O’Leary continued “Consumers should keep in mind that savings can be made without necessarily switching. By researching the market and using the information about alternative providers’ offerings and prices you will have greater bargaining power with your existing provider to negotiate a better deal.

In many instances new customers are offered better rates than those available to existing customers so a consumer’s loyalty may not always be rewarded. If it isn’t, we would strongly urge consumers to switch but the first step in this process has to be checking to see if a better deal is available.

Consumers may believe that it is difficult to switch providers but our research clearly shows that the majority of those who did so said that they found the process easy. To help make the process even easier there are a range of free online tools on our website where consumers can check out financial product and insurance comparisons as well as getting more information on switching”.

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