Paper bills are here to stay … for now!

The following is a guest post by Shaun Jackson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at KUBRA.

Consumer billing and payment preferences are constantly changing and evolving, and it can be hard for utilities to stay up to date on the latest behavioral trends. With that in mind, KUBRA recently conducted a nationwide survey to research current consumer billing behaviors and attitudes. The survey received 1,008 responses from adults 18 years of age and older who identified themselves as the person responsible for their household’s utility (gas, electric, water) decisions and payments. The results of the survey both revealed some surprising results and backed up some common perceptions (to get the full download, feel free to attend our upcoming 2018 Consumer Billing Trends – KUBRA Utility Report webinar).

One of the most surprising results? Paper bills and statements aren’t going away anytime soon.

When asked how they prefer to receive bills and statements, respondents were almost exactly split between mail and email. In fact, mail beat out email as the most preferred way to receive bills by 0.5%, with mail at 41.87% and email at 41.37%.

Rounding out the bottom 16.77% of preferred ways to receive bills is a combination of online website, mobile app, and text messaging. However, it’s important to remember that the younger generations have shown an affinity for more tech options, and as more Gen Z consumers enter the marketplace, their influence will be felt more strongly. When limiting data to just Millennial responses, the combined percentage of website, mobile app and text messaging rises to 30%, with mobile apps accounting for most of the jump.

At first glance, this data seems at odds with the commonly held perception that digital is growing at the detriment of paper. Even taking into account a larger percentage of Millennials leaning toward digital over paper, there is still a large amount of the population that prefer receiving paper bills (even 24% of Millennials chose mail over email). So what’s going on?

As may be expected, a large amount of respondents cited security concerns as their main reason for avoiding e-billing, particularly mobile e-billing. This is understandable given the recent influx of security breaches at huge companies throughout North America. Some respondents also cited not having a smartphone and not knowing how to pay bills online as their top reasons.

Maybe slightly more surprising are the patterns that began to develop from respondents using the “Other” field to write their own answers. Reasons that kept popping up over and over include using mailed bills for record-keeping purposes, as reminders to pay, and simply because respondents found eBilling inconvenient. Some other memorable responses include “Mail is oddly satisfying,” “I work for USPS. Receiving mail is good job security for me,” and “I’ll use [paper bills] to go back and check usage from the previous year.”

There were many more insights revealed through the survey, and I look forward to digging into the results further during our upcoming webinar, 2018 Consumer Billing Trends – KUBRA Utility Report. I hope you’ll join us as we discuss the current consumer billing and payment trends, our predictions for the future, and tips to help you take advantage of the information learned.

Shaun is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and oversees all marketing strategy and activities at KUBRA. In her role, she is responsible for leading high-impact marketing programs that enhance demand generation and increase awareness of KUBRA in the North American market. With more than 20 years of marketing experience, she helps to drive corporate awareness with measurable marketing, branding, and communications initiatives.

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