Examining Consumer-Brand Relationships in the UK Energy Sector A Social Media Perspective

With social media transforming how customers interact with brands, this study explores the consumer –brand relationship in UK energy sector which has a reputation for lack of trust by customers. Using user-generated contents on Facebook pages of the ‘big six’ UK energy companies, the study qualitatively operationalised and applied three consumer-brand relationships construct, exploring the interplay between the brands and the consumer. Findings revealed various indications of brand trust, satisfaction and affiliation but overall customers are not satisfied with their relationship with energy companies, they want to know there is a brand on their side, who takes an interest in their complaints and is willing to help them out. There were forms of engagement and a sense of attachment through brand icons and winning prizes through competition. The consumers found social media a more accessible, cheaper, faster means of communicating, they often offer compliments, complain or requests for assistance. The study extends understanding of energy brands and consumer relationships and advances knowledge on the emerging research approach of thematic analysis; by extracting and analysing consumer comments on social media.