EE to change marketing tack to counter 4G rivals

EE is to switch its message to how its 4G network lets customers access content as it looks to protect its first to market advantage when rivals begin launching similar high-speed mobile internet services launch later this year.

EE Brand Video
A still-frame from EE’s brand concept video

New content propositions such as music and video services will be highlighted in ads focusing on how its network lets users access content on their mobile devices, rather than the connectivity message used since the network launched in October 2012.

Steven Day, EE’s chief of brand and communications, told Marketing Week the strategy is instrumental in its bid to remain the market leader as mobiles become the primary access point to access digital content and operators such as O2 and Vodafone also begin rolling out 4G services later in the year.

“There’s a lot of things we’ve brought to the fore [such as its movie and music services] but not made a big deal about,” he explains. “We’ve got new things that we intend to launch in the future.”

News of future marketing strategy came as the company, which also includes the Orange and T-Mobile networks, announced it added 201,000 contract – or postpaid – customers in the three months to 31 December fewer than the 250,000 additions it posted in the previous quarter and the 313,000 additions in the same quarter the previous year. The numbers prompted some commentators to suggest it is not yet making the most of its monopoly in the superfast mobile internet market.

EE’s spontaneous consumer brand awareness has reached “43 per cent” since the multi-million pound launch campaign, the company claims citing an online Ipsos Mori poll of 800 people conducted in December. Day says the results are a “phenomenal success” compared with rival brands in the sector during the early days of their launches.

“We’re at almost double the level of awareness of two months after O2 launched [25 per cent] plus our own T-Mobile brand which scored 20 per cent in the same period [after its launch],” he claims without citing sources.

EE, was given the go-ahead from Ofcom to re-use its existing spectrum licences to launch 4G ahead of rivals last August. However,O2, Vodafone and Three are expected to make up ground EE’s lead with their expected launch of similar 4G services in 2013 following a spectrum auction later this year with some of the rivals pledging to charge 4G tariffs significantly below those of EE.

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View point
By launching 4G months ahead of its rivals, thanks to Ofcom giving EE the green light to use its existing spectrum rather than waiting for this year’s auction, the company had the change to steal the march on its rivals with a super fast mobile and broadband offering.

Unfortunately launching first doesn’t offer the opportunity to look over your shoulder, which appears to have served as a disadvantage for EE. It has had to educate the public as to what 4G actually is on its own and determine a pricing strategy for the UK market – prices that consumers appear to have initially baulked at for being too expensive.

With rival Three announcing it won’t charge its contract customers anything extra for 4G and Vodafone and O2 preparing their own campaigns, EE’s move to focus its marketing strategy less on mobile internet and more on the additional value-added services it can provide to convince over more consumers than just early adopters with a wad of free cash and a need for speed is a necessary move. 

CORRECTION
In ‘week in numbers’ in the issue of Marketing Week dated 14 February we stated there were 27 towns that will be able to access EE’s 4G services from June. The total should have been 65.

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