Emily Groch
Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, providing omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to telecom providers.

Last winter, Mintel Comperemedia launched its annual marketing trends for key industries, including telecommunications. The four trends we identified for telecom marketers in 2018 included:

Hyping Hyper-speed
2018 is the year to build excitement for the next generation of connectivity.

The Great Re-bundling
As consumers subscribe to more streaming services, providers will develop new approaches to bundling that enable better customization and integration of content.

Dashboard Masters
Providers will get smarter about helping their customers visualize, interpret, and customize their unique patterns of data consumption.

Telecom Trust-building
Providers and marketers will increase efforts to communicate with customers more honestly, and humanize their brands.

As we approach the release of our 2019 Telecommunications Marketing Trends, let’s look back on 2018 and see how two of these trends actually played out:

Hyping Hyper-speed

Heading into 2018, messaging about 5G networks was fairly limited, as it was a bit too soon to expect brands to start talking about next-gen wireless. However, as we approach the initial 5G launches, carriers are doing more to educate and build excitement around 5G. In particular, T-Mobile and Sprint have led the 5G conversation on social media, as they build the case for their merger through highlighting their commitments to 5G. T-Mobile has gone so far as to drive a semi-truck around the nation showcasing the innovations its 5G network will enable. In Canada, Xplornet is leading the 5G charge on social media, featuring its plans for next-generation wireless in rural Canada, and highlighting 5G’s possibilities.

We didn’t expect to see marketing for 5G-capable smartphones in 2018, but Motorola surprised us. Motorola has been promoting its moto z3 as the world’s first 5G-upgradable smartphone. Not only does the phone work now, but with a mod, it will work on 5G, too.

In Q4 2018, the marketplace for home internet will change, as 5G fixed wireless options launch in markets such Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. New residential internet competition in these and other early markets will likely help drive down internet prices for residents while also bringing new internet and TV bundles that pair connectivity with streaming-only services.

The Great Re-bundling

How didn’t we see the The Great Re-bundling play out this year? Streaming services had already started partnering up with each other and pay-TV providers in 2017, making it easier for consumers to access content from a single place with similar user interfaces. In 2018, many streaming services bundled with wireless carriers, pay-TV providers, or new agreements with each other.

Hulu and Spotify, which once partnered solely on a student bundle, extended the bundle’s availability (with a slightly higher price point) to general audiences in 2018. The pair recently improved the student bundle by bringing Showtime on board. All three services are available to students at the low price point of $4.99/month. It’s a smart strategy to get all three services in front of young adults to start building a relationship that may last long past the college years.

Another stand-out example has been Comcast’s integration of Netflix into pay TV bundles in certain markets. The development is notable because Comcast treats Netflix as part of the TV package and handles Netflix-related billing, making the customer journey simple with one monthly price for the entire bundle.

There’s a possibility that Amazon Channels will have competition from Roku, which is reportedly working on a service that will aggregate streaming content into a single platform without the need to download multiple apps and interact via disparate interfaces.

In 2019, more streaming bundles will emerge, driven in part by the arrival of 5G fixed wireless for home internet. These bundles will likely involve many types of media coming together, including video, music, podcast, ebooks and gaming services. Consumer desire for convenience and cost savings will sustain the appeal of these content bundles, driving new partnerships and approaches in the years to come.

What’s next?

Stay tuned! Mintel’s 2019 Telecom Marketing Trends launch soon!