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Over half of SMEs unaware they can switch their water retailer according to Populus research

We all rely on water, but busy micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), face an ever-increasing number of demands on their time, which can make it hard to keep on top of water bills.

The opening of the retail water market to businesses in April of this year was widely hailed as an opportunity for SMEs to cut costs and enjoyed more tailored customer services. Businesses in Scotland have enjoyed a deregulated water market since 2008.

However, Populus research(1) shows that while awareness is growing, a number of SMEs still remain in the dark when it comes to better water deals. The latest research conducted by Populus for the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) tracks awareness of the retail water market among SMEs. It found that just over 2 in 5 (43%) of SMEs were aware they could switch their water retailer.

Over half (52%) of SMEs who took part in the latest survey said they were likely to explore their choices during the next six months

The research shows that there is more work to be done to show SMEs that even the smallest business could benefit from tailored services, simpler billing and better customer service; little things that could add up to make all the difference for SMEs.

The evidence shows that about 2 in 5 (39%) said were unlikely to switch or negotiate a better water deal felt their organisation did not use enough water to save any money. And 1 in five (22%) businesses did not see the need to switch because they were happy with their current deal.

Awareness among SMEs has risen considerably since CCWater carried out a survey in the early part of 2016, which revealed fewer than one in ten small businesses were aware of the soon-to-be launched water retail market.

CCWater plans to repeat the survey of SMEs in December as part of its long-term commitment to track the shifting views of business customers on the retail water market.

The full CCWater report can be viewed online here.

Populus’s Business & Consumer Insight team unlocks the Critical Knowledge needed to make better business decisions, with extensive knowledge and experience of the water retail market. View a case study here or contact us on +44 [0]20 7253 9900 to find out more.


(1)Populus conducted 502 interviews between 11 – 18 July 2017. SMEs in England were surveyed to gauge awareness of the introduction of retail water competition. The sample covered a wide variety of sectors.

View the full Data Tables here.

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