The concept of active consumers is an important element of the new energy market design going through the European Parliament at the moment. Putting the consumer at the core of the Energy Union is being reflected in several elements of potential legislation, but just what is an ‘active consumer’, and how realistic is the concept? The European Economic and Social Committee said: “In order for consumers to participate actively in the energy market they need access to smart technologies, information, training, and finance. Consumers should have the freedom to play an active role in the energy system by having the right to choose and switch easily between both energy producers and distributors. Moreover, consumers should be given the opportunity to become ‘prosumers’ – i.e. also produce and sell energy if the appropriate infrastructure, know-how and a regulatory environment are put in place – thus opening up completely new business opportunities.”
On the other hand, the Business Dictionary describes an active consumer as: ‘Customers who have bought a firm’s products at least once in a 12-month period. Active customers are more likely (than the non-active or occasional customers) to buy again.’
The difference between the two opinions is where the impetus comes from: the EU perspective is that they have to create the market first; the Business Dictionary definition has industry leading by providing products that consumers want to buy again. While both are valid, and necessary, which comes first?
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The concept of the active consumer is no longer a concept – it is a growing trend