In several markets firms are required to explicitly announce price increases by sending customers notification letters. The purpose of this article is to analyze how electricity providers deal with such obligatory price increase communication and to provide a comprehensive overview of communicative arguments used by firms. Data is gathered through a content analysis of 97 price increase mailings. Findings show that electricity providers apply several price communication strategies while other promising strategies for customer retention are mostly ignored (i.e., those related to competitors, offerings and relationship benefits). Further, price increase communication differs between national and local firms. Local firms are more transparent in their price increase communication and refer even less often to offer and relationship benefits. Electricity firms have many options to improve the potential effects of price increase letters, such as referring to the future relationship. This is the first study which examines the content of price increase communication by firms. It structures price communication practices used by electricity providers, analyzes their empirical relevance, summarizes findings in five global propositions, and provides a detailed agenda for future research. Moreover, the study indicates several means for public policy organizations to offer regulations on the content of price increase notifications.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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