By Björg Bisgaard

By launching the competition “Målerjagten” (“The Meter Hunt”) SEAS-NVE has convinced more than 25,000 customers to read their meters frequently and to submit the readings via web or text messages. By raising meter awareness among Målerjagtens contestants, their average energy consumption has fallen by 17%.

Målerjagten, which went live on 1 January 2009, is a nationwide competition for all households with an electricity meter. By sending meter readings to SEASNVE the contestants stand a chance of winning DKK50,000 (€6,700) every month.

Each meter reading represents four lots in the monthly draw. Lots cannot be transferred to the following months. To remain in the competition every month the contestant has to send new readings, and contestants are allowed to send up to four readings per month, thereby increasing the chances of winning.

Each month’s winner is announced on the front page of the Målerjagten website (www.maalerjagten.dk) and through PR initiatives, which has led to considerable coverage.

WHO AND HOW?
Contestants do not have to be SEAS-NVE customers, but they must be at least 18 years of age. The competition is entered by visiting the website, where one enters data such as utility customer number, type and size of home, number of family members, geographical address, email address and mobile phone number.

The system then generates a personal subpage protected by a username and password. The contestant can choose whether to submit meter readings via this web page or via mobile phone text message.

MUCH MORE THAN JUST A COMPETITION
The readings are not just lots. They are in fact the key to substantial energy savings and lower CO2 emissions. By comparing each contestant’s consumption to relevant statistical figures, it is possible to estimate whether the household has a high or low energy consumption compared to average. Presenting this estimate in the form of the well-known EU energy label (A to G), makes it very easy to understand whether one’s consumption level is high or low.

The website also serves as an important customer communications platform. Both on the front page and the personal subpages, we bring them news, energy counselling and other marketing messages. We believe the importance of this platform will increase even further over time, because traditional channels – such as paper-based invoices and meter reading cards – will be soon digitised completely.

WHY THIS CON CEPT ?
Målerjagten is in many ways the sum of all the strategic consumer knowledge SEAS-NVE has been gathering over the past four years. In 2006 we launched a large scale campaign called “Brug energien bedre” (“Use the energy better”), where we asked all of our private customers to tell us about their energy interests and thoughts. The response was overwhelming, with more than 35,000 replies.

From this enormous amount of information we were able to pinpoint certain needs and interests particularly relevant to the majority of all respondents:

  • Energy counselling had to be closely related to the consumer’s own home
  • Keeping track of the household’s energy consumption had to be quick and easy
  • The average consumer felt a need for some sort of “cause” or “excuse” to start focusing on energy.

Consequently, Målerjagten was designed to address these needs as efficiently as possible. The entire concept revolves around the consumer’s own home. Participation takes very little time, yet the small and easy efforts lead to highly relevant information. The primary short term reason to enter Målerjagten is the possibility of winning the DKK50,000 every month – a sum large enough to create attention and motivation.

Long term advantages include the climate-improving and economic aspects of the competition, which is stressed in all the competition marketing. We believe a mix of arguments creates more interest than if we only communicated the chance to win the monthly prize.

A LANDMARK
Firstly, this is the first time a competition like this has been run in Denmark. Secondly, it’s designed according to very specific and newly discovered customer needs. Thirdly, it works!

At the time of writing Målerjagten has been going on for nine months. We know for a fact that the average contestant has lowered his or her energy consumption by no less than 17% compared to the year before. To an average family of four this represents an annual saving of DKK1,437 DKK (€193). This amazing result has nothing to do with winning the prize or not – it is quite possible to win without saving one single kWh.

Målerjagten is in itself an important accomplishment, but its future implications are even more so. Because it proves beyond a shadow of doubt that consumers will lower their energy consumption if they know how much energy they actually use, and whether this level is high or low compared to the average.

Within the next two years all of SEAS-NVE’s nearly 400,000 customers will have a new intelligent meter, capable of submitting readings automatically on an hourly or daily basis. Considering this in the light of the results of Målerjagten, the enormous potential of automated consumer information becomes evident.

By providing our private customers with detailed information about their energy consumption through web, email and text messages, we will be able to expand the benefits of Målerjagten to our entire private customer base. If they lower their energy consumption by merely 10%, it will spare the atmosphere 60 million tons of CO2 annually.

To sum up, Målerjagten has created several very important benefits for our customers and proven that energy awareness leads to energy savings. By doing so it has also become an important part of SEAS-NVE’s plans for future market strategies. www.seas-nve.dk