February 1, 2021

Getting to Know the Pre-Pay Customer: From Millennials to Wealthy Individuals

Pre-pay energy solutions allow utility customers to add money to their utility account before energy is used. As the power is consumed, the pre-paid balance declines. 

Pre-pay options are popular with many customers because they gain more control over their energy usage and payment schedule. They also benefit from reduced or eliminated deposits and disconnect/reconnect fees. Pre-pay energy appeals to diverse groups of people for a variety of reasons. Let’s explore who primarily benefits from pre-pay and why.

 

Millennials

About: Millennials are the top pre-pay demographic due to their socioeconomic status, willingness to try new payment trends, and preference for smaller, manageable payment sizes. 

Market Size: Millennials make up nearly 22% of the U.S. population and 27% of the Canadian population.

Why They’ll Benefit: Pre-pay makes it easier for Millennials to manage their expenses and payment dates.

  1. 70% of millennials are interested in expense management services that provide more control over their spending. 
  2. 62% of millennials live paycheck to paycheck.
  3. 25% of millennials are concerned with how energy programs can save them money.

For more information on millennials, check out our infographic 8 Reasons Why Millennials Will Love Your Utility Pre-Pay Program.

 

Limited-income individuals 

About: Low-income individuals earn less than $28,000 per year and often struggle to afford one large utility payment each month. 

Market Size: 11.6% million Americans and 9.5% of Canadians are considered low-income.

Why They’ll Benefit: Pre-pay allows these individuals to better control their energy costs.

  1. 20% of net income goes toward utility costs for low income individuals.
  2. 46% of low-income adults have struggled to pay their bills since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
  3. 39% of uncollected electric bills is attributed to changes in unemployment rates.

Find out how Pre-Pay programs can drive results in an economic downturn.

 

Wealthy Individuals

About: Wealthy or retired individuals often own multiple properties, from vacation homes to rental properties. 

Market Size: 21% of Americans are in the ‘upper-middle’ or ‘high’ income class, and 7.5% of Canadians’ income rank in the top 10%

Why They’ll Benefit: Pre-pay allows this group to voluntarily shut off power for months at a time when relocating to and from second homes or as a way to manage utility bills at a rental property. 

  1. 64% increase in upper-tier incomes in the past five decades.
  2. 42% increase in high-end home sales in Q3 2020 as people looked for second homes amid the pandemic.
  3. 13% of adults who moved during the COVID-19 pandemic relocated to their second or vacation home.

Small/medium-sized business (SMB)

About: SMBs affected by the COVID-19 are opting for smaller, more frequent payments that better align with their cash flow.

Market Size: Small businesses account for more than 98% of all U.S. and Canadian businesses. 

Why They’ll Benefit: Pre-pay offers SMBs the payment flexibility they need, particularly in challenging economic times.

  1. 43% of businesses temporarily closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
  2. 2 weeks worth of cash is all the median business with $10,000+ in monthly expenses has on hand.
  3. $195,000 is the average debt for a small business owner.


Pre-pay energy gives customers more control over their energy usage and when they pay. This “load and go” solution appeals to a wide range of consumers with different wants and needs.

Download our Complete Guide to Pre-Pay Energy Programs to find out if pre-pay is the right solution for your utility and customers.

 

Sources:

  1. Statista. “US Population Share by Generation.” 2019.
  2. Statistics Canada. “Economic Well-being Across Generations of Young Canadians: Are Millennials Better or Worse Off?” April 2019.
  3. Accenture Consulting. “Driving the Future of Payments.” 2017.
  4. CNBC. “62% of millennials say they’re living paycheck to paycheck.” 2019.
  5. Utility Dive. “What do millennials want from their energy providers?” October 2017.
  6. Investopedia. “Which Income Class Are You?” 2019.
  7. NPR. “U.S. Census Bureau Reports Poverty Rate Down, But Millions Still Poor.” 2019.
  8. Government of Canada. “Canada reaches lowest poverty rate in history.” 2019.
  9. Urban. “Families Need More Help to Keep the Lights On and the Water Running during the Pandemic.” 2020.
  10. PEW Research. “Economic Fallout From COVID-19 Continues To Hit Lower-Income Americans the Hardest.” April 2020.
  11. Bloomberg Law. “Virus Could Push Unpaid U.S. Utility Bills to Highest in Decades.” May 2020.
  12. Investopedia. “Which Income Class Are You?” 2019.
  13. The Measure of a Plan. “Rich, Richer, Richest: a Profile of High-Income Canadians.” 2020.
  14. PEW Research. “6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S.” February 2020.
  15. Bloomberg. “Luxury Home Sales Surge, Highlighting U.S. Housing Wealth Gap.” October 2020.
  16. PEW Research. “6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S.” February 2020.
  17. Oberlo. “10 Small Business Statistics.” August 2020.
  18. Government of Canada. “Key Small Business Statistics.”  2019.
  19. PNAS. “The impact of COVID-19 on small business outcomes and expectations.” July 2020.
  20. Business.com. “Business Debt: How Much Is Too Much to Carry?” April 2020.