There is now very little prospect of any individual participant in the value chain fully owning the customer.
The risk of losing customer ownership has evolved into the risk of becoming disengaged from the customer's changing mindset.
This risk is underlined by the extent to which technology brands are now top of mind with customers.
|Rank 2011||Rank 2010||Rank 2009||Brand||Industry group|
Today's top four global brands are all technology players, with the top-ranked operator brand coming in at number six.
Quickening technology cycles reshape brand affinities
This dominance by the technology players reflects the extent to which quickening technology cycles across both the consumer and enterprise segments are impacting consumers' everyday working habits and lifestyles, and reshaping their brand affinities.
Take-up of consumer electronics devices3
As the graph shows, multiple devices per user is increasingly the norm. And the time taken for new technologies to reach 50% penetration is shortening rapidly, down from 15 years for mobile phones to 4 to 5 years for smartphones and tablets.
One of the reasons for this acceleration is that operators' fixed and mobile networks are now a platform for access to a wide number of sectors and services, such as television, retail and banking. As this explosion in online/mobile applications gathers pace, disruptive players are leveraging their rising brand values to extend their service propositions.
At the same time, devices are playing a pivotal role in shaping the mobile customer experience.
Adapting to the new customer mindset
As these changes in customers' mindset — and behavior continue, and seemingly accelerate — operators have an absolute need to adapt their service offerings and customer experience to reflect these shifts in order to sustain and build customer engagement. These responses should be supported by clear communication with customers on the value of the network and on the effort and investment required to provide high-quality services.
Network quality is often taken as a given, but it shouldn't be. Service quality is not just about the device or application; it is also about the network infrastructure without which these elements would never work.
If operators worldwide can get this message across to customers, then they will be able to improve perceptions of added value — including price, quality and convenience — and to work the proven levers of brand strength in telecommunications, including high trust and credibility.
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2Brand Finance, "Global 100," September 2011.
3Ofcom, “Communications market report: UK,” 4 August 2011.