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Octopus Energy: making waves for energy’s big six

Hermione Hitchin Senior Executive 31/03/2023
There’s a new kid on the block in the energy sector and apparently, it’s an adorable, pink octopus…

We’ve already seen OVO Energy acquire SSE – one of the UK’s ‘big six’ energy suppliers – and with newcomer Octopus Energy increasingly soaking up market share, it looks like the dominance of the traditional big six is beginning to subside.

According to BrandVue, Savanta’s daily brand tracking tool, British Gas is used by more consumers than any other provider we track, with penetration data from the last 12 months showing the energy giant miles ahead of its competition.

With trade dating back to the mid-90s, it is hardly surprising British Gas is the current go-to for essential services. During this time, it has maintained a service that consumers trust, and as a result, has cultivated a strong, polished reputation.

But will a thirty-year tenure be enough to insure British Gas against the emergence of Octopus Energy?

BrandVue data shows that in the last six months, Octopus has not only caught up with, but surpassed British Gas in Brand Love.

Furthermore, when looking at the percentage of consumers that state they would consider using a brand, both providers cruise above the rest of the big six including  E.ON, EDF and Scottish Power.

Indeed, British Gas sits comfortably above the rest – but Octopus Energy is steadily gaining ground, and the gap between the two is beginning to narrow.

In a market as volatile as the energy sector, consistency is paramount – and with Octopus’s performance steadily increasing, it looks as though there is a strong potential for the new player to challenge the big six.

How did we get here?

A unique business model plays a key role in setting Octopus apart from its competition. It offers a range of budget-friendly tariffs, making it an appealing choice for the more cost-conscious consumers.

This commitment to low prices doesn’t go unnoticed; our data shows that on average in the last six months, 1 in 4 (25%) consumers agree Octopus Energy is “attractively priced”, compared with only 1 in 20 (6%) for British Gas.

But it’s not only cost-cutters that are seeing the appeal; environmentally conscious consumers may also deem Octopus Energy a worthy recipient of their direct debits.

With a pledge to “get rid of gas for good”, and an electricity supply that is already 100% green, Octopus is providing an easy way for the average consumer to reduce their carbon footprint.

In fact, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) named Octopus Energy “the company that has done the most to advance UK renewables”.

…and if an REA endorsement is not enough, Octopus is the only supplier to have been awarded a Which? Recommended Provider status more than twice.

Success is more than just the service

In addition to its business model, Octopus has managed to create a brand that is fun, quirky, and memorable – a rarity in the realm of energy providers.

From an endearing mascot to a comical social media presence, the brand has taken a refreshing approach to marketing, one that we are seeing crop up in many industries, and which seems to resonate particularly well amongst the younger generations.

According to BrandVue, Octopus are more likely to be dubbed ‘friendly’ than any other provider.

These associations are likely a result of its social media presence. From edgy jibes at the big six, to risqué jokes about OnlyFans, Octopus’ Twitter platform provides some comic relief from what has traditionally been a rather dull industry.

But behind the sharp wit lies a crucial message: being a friendly energy provider matters.

After all, in a world led by faceless corporations, a human touch can be effective in easing the worries of a generation that more often than not feel anxious about what the future may hold. Choosing an energy provider can be a daunting task, especially for young adults who are relatively new to the world of bill-paying.

As such, Gen Z may find joy in forging human connections with the companies that supply their electricity, which could in turn provide a sense of comfort in an otherwise intimidating landscape.

In fact, a much lower percentage of Gen Z consumers stated they would “never consider” buying from Octopus Energy compared with British Gas.

But it’s not lights out for British Gas. Thanks to a long-standing history of powering our nation, it is not in danger of folding anytime soon. Although, to be in with a chance of winning over Gen Z, the energy giant will have to level up its social media presence – and this is no easy feat. Octopus Energy has disrupted the market, and British Gas will have big boots to fill.

…all eight of them.

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