Consumers 'slow to shop around' in key sectors
on 14/02/2013 00:00:00
According to the latest research on consumer behaviour carried out by the National Consumer Agency (NCA), there continues to be reluctance to check for best value in key sectors, with just 37% of people switching at least one product or service in the past year.
Some 63% and 61% of consumers have not checked to see if better value is available, respectively, for gas and electricity provider in the past three years.
The study also found that consumers are most likely to have switched their main grocery shop (20%) and car insurance (19%) in the past year.
Across six key energy and telecommunications markets (broadband, fixed line, mobile, electricity, gas and TV service providers), the majority of consumers have not checked within the past three years to see if a better deal was available to them.
Overall, only 23% of consumers surveyed said that they "change companies often to avail of better deals whenever they can" while 44% of consumers said that they "tend to stick to the same providers".
For those that did switch, the main reason given was "discount offered by new provider" ranging from 52% in relation to the mobile phone sector to 81% for gas supply provider. The majority of switching is prompted by a new service provider in the sector.
Commenting on the findings, director of research and policy at the NCA Fergal O'Leary said consumers could only drive competition if they played their part by checking for better deals in the market.
"Our research shows clearly that many consumers are still not actively checking to see if there are better deals available to them and consequently they could be missing out on savings. About half of those who did check for a better deal did identify savings, and a quarter actually switched their provider, indicating that there are savings to be made," he said.
The news that Irish consumers are slow to switch service provider comes after a recent survey highlighted that almost half of all Irish households are being forced into debt to pay everyday household bills.
Carried out by new price comparison website uSwitch.ie, the survey showed that 56% of people are borrowing to pay regular household bills, while 43% are turning to credit cards and overdrafts to meet such payments.
The study also found that 60% of consumers feel rising energy costs are hitting their disposable income and that paying electricity bill is now a worry for 62% of households.