Yesterday we carried the news that Pinergy was extending its commercial relationship with Munster Rugby to become its official energy partner and the supporter of an innovative Number 16 fan engagement initiative.
To find out a little more about the motivation and the measurement of the partnership we sat down with Pinergy CEO Enda Gunnell.
Sport for Business: Tell us a little about how the partnership with Munster first came about?
Enda Gunnell: When we first started out we were very much focused on the domestic electricity supply space. We were introducing a pay as you go platform which was new and so to get awareness in the market quickly we looked at the concept of a brand ambassador.
We went through do we do sport, do we do entertainment? We chose sport and then we thought which sport? The GAA, which is my background, is quite parochial where a hero in one county is anyting but elsewhere.
Rugby went beyond that and Paul O’Connell was our first pick. We approached him, we liked each other, he baceame an investor in the business and he’s very much part of the team.
Sport for Business: How has the business developed over the duration of your partnership?
Enda Gunnell: We’ve been in the market since 2013 and the business has evolved a lot. Today we are a full-service energy supply and advisory business. We cater for business users as well as domestic and the centre of what we do is focused on the smart meter.
The principle of control, data, measurement and analytics has been a winner. Retail customers with 20 units around the country can now look at a single dashboard acropss their whole estate, updated every half an hour which shows up anomalies and allows for much closer and much better management.
We are looking very much at the customer experience. Energy is not necessarily a front of mind element for most customers so long as its there. Our move is to create greater control.
Sport for Business: Have you looked at running the same model through clubs, as part of Munster Rugby?
Enda Gunnell: We are only in the early stages of rolling out the technology to SME’s but yes, that is an area we will be looking at. Club finances need to be managed carefully and we can help individuals to monitor and improve their energy usage.
Sport for Business: How does the partnership work between you?
Enda Gunnell: Since 2014 we have been onboard with Munster. We sponsor the computer technology which enables management to monitor and adjust player performance.
We were probably the first in Ireland to put the logo on the computers that you see in the management area during games. Because they are using data to make better decisions that was a natural fit with our own business objectives and it was a winner for both of us.
We haven’t run the numbers but we are told that we are getting great value. It’s visible and has served us well and is the basis on which we have extended and expanded the deal.
We are now the official energy partner so we supply all the power going into Thomond Park, Irish Independent Park and across Munster Rugby.
We are working with the team to enhance their approach to energy management and sustainibility. We look with them at solar, wind and other alternative energy sources and again that fits with our advisory capacity.
Combined Heat and Power is an interesting concept as well which will deliver.
We have already renewed internal lighting within the stadium and working with our partners at GE we have installed a solution which reduces consumption of energy and cost by 80 per cent.
That’s a start and we want to keep working with Munster to create more than an awareness driven sponsorship relationship.
Sport for Business: You’re national, how does the association with Munster fit that?
Enda Gunnell: We are based in Dublin. the connection to Munster came about through Paul but has served us well across the country. Munster’s reach is quite wide.
Sport for Business: Where do you come in the ‘pecking order’ of electricity suppliers like Electric Ireland, Bord Gais Energy and SSE Airtricity?
Enda Gunnell: The market changed dramatically when it became deregulated. Electric Ireland is still the dominant force with as much as 60 percent but we are growing. We would have around two to three percent of the market at present but we have ambitious growth plans.
Yes we want to grow. What we are doing in terms of smart meters is innovative and could give us a point of difference in other markets but there is still plenty of room for us to grow in the republic of Ireland first.
Sport for Business: How do you measure the success of the partnership?
Enda Gunnell: It’s a brand positioning piece for us first and foremost but we are expanding that now into showing how the relationship can work in terms of driving energy savings and making a real difference to Munster, to businesses and still in the home.
The fan engagement idea is one that will give us greater visibility in terms of social media ahead of games as well as in the stadia. It’s an exciting way to grow our visibility, explain our story and put Pinergy at the heart of the customer experience of being a Munster Rugby fan.
It’s always good to see brands growing in terms of their relationship with sport and that is clearly something which has been in the planning between Munster Rugby and Pinergy.
Going back and doing the same thing, just a little better will always have a diminishing return. You have to continually innovate and switch it up with fresh ideas and fresh thinking.
This has been a great example of doing just that and at Sport for Business we look forward to doing that ourselves for our members in 2018.