Parks: Loyalty programs, data rollover important to likely switchers

Verizon's new data-rollover feature and loyalty programs such as AT&T's Thanks and T-Mobile Tuesdays are compelling to wireless users considering changing carriers, according to fresh data from Parks Associates.

The market research firm said 66 percent those polled in a recent survey of users considering making a switch in the next year rated the ability to roll over unused data as very important when considering a new service provider. Sixty-five percent said free access to Wi-Fi hotspots is important, and 60 percent valued a rewards program for being a loyal customer.

Meanwhile, only 23 percent said signing a two-year contract to lower the upfront cost of service was a primary factor. Unsurprisingly, good customer service was the No. 1 factor cited, with 74 percent of respondents saying it is very important when considering a new carrier.

"The U.S. mobile service market has grown intensely competitive over the last three years as growth in new smartphone subscribers tapers off. U.S. operators have ramped up incentives to lure subscribers from competitors and encourage their own to stay longer—their game plans have switched gears from ARPU growth to churn management," said Harry Wang, Parks' senior director of research, in a prepared statement. "The migration away from a two-year contract has made service switching easier for consumers, and consequently mobile service providers are facing more pressure on churn."

Indeed, while carriers continue to execute more traditional marketing tactics like buy-one, get-one-free deals and offers to pay off early termination fees (ETFs), loyalty programs and data-rollover features are also gaining traction. Verizon made headlines two weeks ago when it introduced Carryover Data, joining AT&T and T-Mobile. And AT&T and T-Mobile have bickered recently about which carrier brought its new loyalty program to market first.

Operators are likely to develop more innovative campaigns as competition continues to increase in a saturated market, Wang said.

"We are going to see more creative ways from operators to persuade consumers to join or stay," Wang said. "Churn management is becoming the next battleground for mobile operators to differentiate." 

For more:
- see this Parks Associates press release

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