Since the British gas industry was deregulated in April 1996, a
free-for-all was created whereby any Tom, Dick or Harry could supply the
fuel. There are now 13 suppliers, including British Gas, various
electricity companies (gearing up for the deregulation of their own
industry) and a handful of independent operations.
Calortex, which was born of Calor Gas and Texaco, is one such supplier -
the largest independent currently operating - and it is Matthew
Eastlake’s job as its loyalty marketing manager to enlighten punters as
to what his company offers.
What exactly is your product?
Gas. It’s the same stuff that you’ve always had from British Gas,
through the same pipes owned by Transco. You can choose to have your
meter supplied by us, British Gas or any other supplier.
Who are your rivals?
The national player, British Gas, regional electricity companies,
independents like us and, finally, the big energy producers and
generators including Scottish Power. However, anyone can supply gas -
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, even yourself.
Campaign Gas? Hmm. So why should we use yours?
We operate at a rate of around 20 per cent cheaper than British Gas.
About 25-30 per cent of potential customers have switched away from
British Gas so far.
What marketing tools can you use that will make people pay attention to
a fundamentally unsexy area?
Door-to-door selling is best for customer acquisition. We only need to
raise interest momentarily and bring our discounts to people’s
Home energy may be low-interest, but people still subconsciously think,
’I don’t want to screw this up.’
If it’s all door-to-door work, where does Wunderman Cato Johnson fit
We need to work out the value of the customers once we have them, and
that’s where we need an agency such as Wunderman. The industry has been
owned by just one player up until now, and there are no databases
available for purchase. We need to analyse the demographics of
customers, once they’re on board, and how much we need to spend to keep
Are you looking at brand extensions and incentives, such as a credit
card, for example?
There are some peculiar companies tying up to create these products.
What are people actually buying? We’re not looking at a credit card, but
ultimately we are thinking about financial products to do with the
Replacing a boiler is a huge expense and we already have a maintenance
Do customers know enough about the deregulated market to make critical
decisions? Or is it just a race between you lot to get the potential
That’s the big one. There are two opposing answers: either the ’first
one in’ wins, or people are truly discerning and want more information.
Keeping it simple is paramount.