Utility firms risk becoming public pariahs, according to a new survey by YouGov.
It found that the sector is now viewed as negatively as tobacco and gambling brands.
Amid skyrocketing gas and electricity prices and hosepipe bans, 63% of Britons now express a negative sentiment toward the market, ranking the industry as the most disliked alongside tobacco (66%) and gambling firms (62%).
If that weren’t bad enough, a further 33% have a ‘very’ unfavorable view of utility companies, with a scant 10% expressing a favorable view of energy providers.
The survey of 2,003 adults, conducted on July 25 using YouGov’s public tracker data, is set against a backdrop of inexorably rising negativity since July last year. Notably, the proportion of respondents harboring a ‘very’ unfavorable view surged between December and April, hitting a nadir of 39% at the beginning of April.
The number of people with a negative view has remained broadly consistent since February, however.
Public sentiment toward Centrica-owned British Gas in particular has turned sour, with YouGov brand index data suggesting that it has slipped into negative territory among the general public, dropping from a zero rating at the start of the year to -9.3 points by August.
Negative sentiment is filtering through to mounting skepticism of energy brands and their claims to be tackling environmental, social and governance issues. Just 9% of the public have faith in E.On to ‘do the right thing,’ dropping to 3% for EDF and SSE. Centrica could count on the trust of just 2%.