Energy, Cable Customers Want Facts by Mail

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Consumers want information from energy and cable companies, and they want it by mail, according to a survey by Customer Development Corp., Peoria, IL

Seventy-five percent of respondents to the 15-minute telephone survey, which was completed by 171 randomly selected heads of households in the top 50 metropolitan statistical areas, said they wanted to receive promotional and informational material from energy companies and cable operators through the mail. Ten percent wanted to be contacted through television and radio ads, 7 percent by telephone and 4 percent by way of their bills.

"This was surprising to me," said Kathy Brown, marketing manager at CDC, a database marketing company. "We really didn't expect this. In fact, we expected them to be more positive about TV ads."

The study also found that consumers are interested in seeing how energy deregulation will benefit them through more choices, better prices, better customer service and additional integrated services. When making cable choices, consumers showed interest in bundled products and services -- such as Internet access, local telephone service and long-distance service -- and are more likely to respond to promotional materials if they are informational rather than promotional.

CDC developed the survey to assess consumers' knowledge of cable and energy deregulation to determine their attitudes toward local providers and to explore the issues of price, cost and value to understand their buying preferences.

"We had some questions, because these are really attractive marketplaces for us to go after, and we couldn't find answers to many questions about these industries," Brown said. "We felt that it was very important for us to understand what is going on in the industry before we went out and tried to sell products based on our ability to develop marketing programs."

Other findings:

* 88 percent of energy customers said they were at least somewhat likely to seek information about alternative energy providers and were looking for a 6 percent to 10 percent savings to switch.

* 70 percent of cable customers cited price as the most frequent motivation needed to consider switching to another cable provider and would switch providers if cost savings were, on average, 6 percent to 10 percent lowered.

* 66 percent of respondents are very likely to return a coupon mailed to them from energy providers or cable operators.

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