27 November

Customer preferences on added value for large resource schemes (SROs)


PJM Economics and Accent were commissioned by a club of UK water companies to conduct a research study aimed at obtaining primary insights into customer preferences for ‘added value’ elements of their proposals for 11 major strategic water resource options (SRO). The research aimed to inform the development of the SRO, and the evidence was to be used as part of the RAPID Gate 2 submissions.

The objectives of the research were to gain insight into the perceived importance of added value from the perspective of customers, to understand preferences regarding the balance between various elements of added value, to explore how much consumers were prepared to pay for added value components, and to identify the most effective language that should be used to covey the concept of added value to customers.


The study comprised three stages:

  • A review of the literature on public value, covering guidance on public value from stakeholders in the water sector and beyond, case studies on perceptions and preferences regarding public value in the UK water sector and reviewing the RAPID Gate One submissions for the 11 specific SRO schemes.
  • Qualitative research.
  • A large-scale quantitative survey to obtain estimates of customer values through online or face-to-face interviews. The survey was structured to include a pairwise choice exercise to obtain values for each of the 26 project additions, and a contingent valuation exercise to a measure of maximum willingness to pay for project additions in total. Survey data were weighted to UK census data (households) and UK business population estimates (non-households) to be representative of the population.


The results demonstrated distinct preferences and values between household and non-household consumers, as well as variations based on the type of site and its proximity to the customer.  Several indicators were found to support the validity of the quantitative research including positive participant feedback, consistency between qualitative and survey research findings, and consistency with the survey across question groupings.  These insights were therefore accepted as providing a valuable resource to the water companies involved for their RAPID submissions.