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Telecom Providers Insights

Category searches for ways to use its rich data troves


The telco category is massively in search of meaning. This has been the case for a long time. They continue to try and redefine the business that they’re in. Most brands are exploring banking and entertainment, with modest success, but strong focused brands already occupy those spaces with great credibility. Further industry consolidation is inevitable as margins get squeezed. Most of the players have a lot of customer and other data but find it difficult to organize, curate and use. They tend to focus on customer acquisition rather than retention. There is an obvious opportunity for brands to develop greater customer centricity as this mostly lacks. The brands need to seriously reconsider their value propositions to consumers and decide where they can be unique. This will also ensure a stronger customer focus. With this as base, there are opportunities for expanded eco-systems (including other brands, products and services) - that offer the consumer a wider and more integrated brand experience and that enables telco’s better commercializing opportunities for their customers and their data. This relies upon having the consumer at the center enabled through connected data and technology.


Thomas Oosthuizen

Global Consulting Director






Brands need to talk about consumer needs beyond functionality


Telecom providers have had a tendency to focus on communicating their functional claims, whether it’s core claims like network coverage/speed or add-on services like money transfer. But it’s a technological treadmill with all providers competing on the same functional territories and consequently not a source of lasting differentiation, and as brands aim to take a lead in a world of connected devices there is potential for  this focus on functionality to increase even further and grow more complex. Few communication brands succeed in accessing the emotional consumer benefit, beyond pure functionality, to create a brand experience that truly connects with consumers.  As the world of technology becomes ever more sophisticated there is growing space for brand to resolve how new functionalities deliver benefits for consumer - but keep it simple, focus on one angle that holds real consumer meaning. Once you have the consumer’s attention you can expand he conversation and reveal more.


Laura MacFarlane

Senior Client Director, Retail and Services

Kantar Millward Brown






IoT represents a major opportunity for many brands


Telcos are talking about 'digital life style'. They are all working in this space and believe they’ve got the differentiator, but it is clear that their offers aren’t differentiated enough. Telefónica is trying to be more specific. It operates with three commercial brands: Movistar in Spain and parts of Latin America; Vivo in Brazil; and O2 in Germany and the UK. Telefonica has a focus on the Internet of Things. As a telco, Telefónica can connect everybody. It’s looking at partnerships with technology companies. One of Telefónica’s strongest areas of focus is security, a critical IoT issue. Having gone from full pelt around content and entertainment and owning the home, Telefónica has moved on to managing and owning the space of IoT.


Nicky Nicolls

President of Spain and Latin America







Middle Eastern brands attempt to strengthen margins with innovation


Ten years ago the world was a simpler place. There was lots of copper. And telco brands provided a connection. Then suddenly the world got smart and all these content and app providers appeared. In the Middle East until recently, the category was about a race to the bottom, giving data away. This year, as margins decline, there’s been a realization that that’s not a sustainable business model. Suddenly, lifestyle groups are appearing within the major telcos, wondering what they can invest in. It’s almost like a venture capital play, hoping that something is going to work. They are looking at being leaders in smart cities and the Internet of Things. Once they define who they are and where they want to go, customers are going to need confidence in the brand to join them on the journey. No one knows the destination. Now it’s jump on the bus and join the “Magical Mystery Tour.”


Andrew Bone

Chief Strategy Officer - MENA

Hill+Knowlton Strategies





US brands invest heavily in media to fight pricing wars


In the US, telecom marketing tactics change quickly, consumer communication spending is higher than most categories, and the tone is combative. Even as brands try to elevate their messages and become more emotional in their communication, they are still playing the price game. And that’s what consumers hear. It’s a fast-moving category for a slow-moving service. Promotions of new contracts or plans can happen within a week. For example, only about four days after Verizon introduced an unlimited data plan, AT&T followed by expanding its unlimited plan. There is probably more brand loyalty than in FMCG categories, not out of emotional connection, but because switching can be difficult.


Alexandra Dziuma

Vice President

Kantar Millward Brown