Earlier this year, Mintel Comperemedia released a series of marketing trends across key industries, including telecommunications. The three Telecommunications Marketing Trends we identified for 2017 were:

  • Upload All the Things!: Internet marketing has traditionally focused on download speeds, but as the rate of uploads increases, more providers will feature the benefits of fast download and upload speeds in their marketing.
  • Audience by the Byte: Brand-sponsored data will become the norm as marketers look for new ways to gain consumer attention and consumers look for ways to get more data for less money.
  • TV Goes Seriously Mobile: With more TV providers entering the wireless space, as well as pressure from streaming video providers to make TV more mobile, 2017 will be the year that TV/mobility bundles finally explode in the US.

As we prepare to release our trend predictions for 2018, we take a look back on how our 2017 trends played out.

Upload All the Things!

There’s still much room for growth on upload speed messaging and strong examples upload capabilities from fiber providers and other ISPs. Download speeds are still prioritized by many providers since download speeds are usually much faster than upload speeds and only fiber providers are able to offer super speedy internet upload speeds. Although marketing didn’t evolve as quickly as we’d expected, we did observe some stellar marketing pieces this year that not only highlighted upload speeds, but also used concrete, illustrative examples to help consumers understand what 5, 10, 100, or 150Mbps upload speeds really mean.

20170825-0111028_0TELUS’s marketing for its 150/150Mbps PureFibre internet stands out. For example, TELUS set the tone for its Internet promotion in this mailer by suggesting that the recipient would be able to “back […] up precious memories in a heartbeat”—a task that can only be accomplished with fast upload capabilities.

Plus, free internet upgrades for customers don’t just apply to download speeds anymore. According to Mintel ePerformance/eDataSource, in May, TELUS notified an estimated 39K subscribers via email that they were getting a free upload speed upgrade, from 5Mbps to 10Mbps, asserting that “uploading a video that used to take 5 minutes will now take as little as 1 minute.” We expect the demand for faster upload speeds to continue increasing in the years ahead, so it will continue to be beneficial for marketers to include the capabilities of their upload speeds in internet campaigns, particularly where those speeds are competitive.

Audience by the Byte

fidoWith enough pressure from T-Mobile and Sprint, we watched as the entire wireless industry went unlimited in 2017, and unlimited data has certainly been the focus. However, applications for sponsored data still surfaced. In Canada, where the mobility industry has been uninfluenced by the US unlimited craze, Rogers’ flanker brand Fido has taken a creative approach to offering “bonus data” to customers. Rather than sponsoring certain types of content, which is prohibited by the CRTC, Fido offers its data-hungry customers five free hours of high-speed mobile data each month. Customers can choose when to initiate each hour of data consumption, and they have the freedom to choose whatever content they want to consume during that free hour.

20170901-051520_0Additionally, Sprint encouraged its US customers to send top-ups for friends or family in Mexico and El Salvador by offering a $5 credit to do so. This method of gifting data and minutes puts the control in the hands of the customer, but Sprint stays involved by offering the credit and facilitating the top-up app.

Rumblings about sponsored data are still cropping up in industry news, so we expect to see more innovation on this during the next few years. After all, not everyone wants or will purchase unlimited data. Mintel found that only 32% of consumers have an unlimited data plan, and 26% say unlimited plans are too expensive, so there’s still an audience for sponsored data options.

TV Goes Seriously Mobile

att mobileAT&T’s marketing strategy in 2017 has been focused squarely on bundling mobile with DIRECTV or DIRECTV NOW, and according to AT&T, it’s working. AT&T noted that the numbers of subscribers that are taking both mobility and DIRECTV are increasing, and that bundles have helped it reduce its postpaid phone churn to a record-low 0.79%. AT&T offered a lifetime discount on DIRECTV service to unlimited wireless subscribers for much of the year, and only recently instated a two-year time limit on the DIRECTV discount.

While AT&T is still the only provider leading with a true TV/mobility bundle, we watched the launch or expansion of several streaming MVPDs this year, including YouTube TV and Hulu with live TV. It’s possible that looking forward, we may see these services offering bundled discounts with specific cellular providers. Additionally, Comcast’s new mobility service, XFINITY Mobile is still very new and currently requires an XFINITY Internet subscription, but perhaps in the future we will see a greater emphasis on TV/mobility bundles from this provider, and others, like Charter Communications.

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top, and home security service providers across the US and Canada.

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