Edition #13: The Rise of the “Prosumer” – 5 Tips to Capitalize On This Growing Segment

For years, telecoms companies have divided their client base into “Consumers” and “Business” users, each with different product sets, pricing, and needs. But in this post-pandemic, work-from-home world that we now live in, a third type of customer has entered the chat – say hello to the “Prosumer”.

These customers don’t have the same demands as true business users, but they do ask more of their connectivity than the typical consumer of the past.  

Consider the marketing executive for a global design house that needs to have constant video calls with Tokyo and Los Angeles from their home in London. Or even the social worker connecting with their peers and their case subjects across rural Cornwall in the UK.

These people need stable, fast connections that can handle video traffic, while simultaneously allowing browsing on another screen (and probably streaming services in other parts of the house while the kids try to do their homework over Wi-Fi).

For remote and hybrid workers, their internet connections often aren’t up to this new way of working. Cue the mad scramble for residential fibre.  

The global FTTP market was worth $14.1 billion in 2020. By 2026, this is forecast to more than double to $29.7 billion, at a very healthy CAGR rate of 13.1% over that period. Nice returns indeed! It’s no wonder that both new entrants and incumbents alike are quickly laying fibre optic cables all over the world.  

But while we can predict the needs of this new class of customers, what is the best way to reach them? How should telcos tweak their channel strategies and sales tactics to take advantage of this trend?

In this article, I outline five challenges telcos may face as they try to capitalize on the Prosumer trend, and how to quickly overcome them.  

1. The Prosumer Is Not Understood or Marketed To “Above The Line”

The Challenge: Telcos are notoriously slow to change and adapt to market forces. As a result, many still do not market specifically to the Prosumer. Effective mass advertising is pivotal if telcos want to capitalize on this new revenue source.  

The Solution:  The Prosumer should be well established as a target market, and telcos must create specific marketing campaigns to tell the fibre story and get people upgrading.  

Regardless of whether they’re on social media, television, radio, or billboards, the ads should paint a picture that resonates with this demographic. Imagery should feature home offices, with multiple devices in use simultaneously throughout the home. Ads should also highlight benefits that will resonate with Prosumers, like increasing productivity, and fast upload and download speeds.  

Who’s Doing It Right:  In New Zealand, Chorus provides a great example of this type of ad and does a good job of showcasing all the possibilities of fibre.

2. Upselling or Switching to Fibre Is Not Encouraged

The Challenge:  Most telco retailers focus on selling wireless. It’s a more tangible sale, as the mystery of the connection is made real by the qualities of the device that is usually sold alongside.

Fixed internet or fibre is a much tougher sell, and telco retailers do it poorly. If you are lucky, you might see a tiny TV on the wall with a dummy plastic router underneath and some wording about “Full Fibre” or some offer that really doesn’t appeal.  

Customers are also often wary of such deals, as they worry they will get the hard sell. Swapping out routers and other infrastructure is time consuming and involves filling out lots of boring forms and waiting forever for engineers to come.

The Solution:  Telcos must go all-in on fibre. This means creating meaningful, prominent in-store displays that speak to the benefits. Here’s an advanced tip - be sure to promote “easy switching” and assistance with this process, and you may just attract many more customers than you initially thought. Execution is everything.

Who’s Doing It Right:  A great example of a telco that is doing it right is Canadian quad play provider, Eastlink. They offer a range of solutions in the fixed line arena and have coined a great “DIY” execution option to encourage customers to try out the solutions, and put them at ease that it’s easy to use.

A screenshot of a web pageDescription automatically generated

3. Telcos Drown In Data But Don’t Know Their Customer Base

The Challenge:  A telecoms company has so much data on their customers, but how do they use it? Often, badly. They outsource outbound campaigns to big auto-dial companies who play a numbers game and call many more customers than is needed, making them feel like they are constantly being “sold to”. It’s an ugly game for sure.

The Solution:  A better approach is using AI-powered contextual selling. All telcos know the usage of their clients, their drop out or error rates, and generally how they are using fixed services. To get Prosumers to upgrade, the challenge is in communicating that better speeds are available, more powerful routers and in-home mesh Wi-Fi solutions are available, and help is there to set them up.

So, use your data. Gather a list of your heaviest users by tariff and give that data to the targeted outbound specialist who can now reach the right people. Bring that data forward in your CRM and retail management platforms. Train your people how to spot the signs of a Prosumer, how to upsell them, and how to do it well.

Go “above the line” on TV and social as already mentioned, but do it well.

Who’s Doing It Right:  

The advert below is a powerful example of identifying and marketing home fibre to a certain niche of Prosumer – the gamer. And while there is only so much you can say with a single image, I have a few ideas of how it could be better.  

Could it consider the barriers to people adopting? How to move from provider X to Y and the benefits of doing that?

Could they offer in-store or even in-home support for those customers wishing to use the technology who are afraid to self-install? While this is a good example from Vodacom, these tips could take a similar ad to the next level.

Bring fibre to your life with Vodacom | Zululand Observer

4. Product Maturating & Pricing For All Consumer Types

The Challenge:  A massive challenge for the industry is the difference in product maturation and pricing between consumer, prosumer, and business clients. Consumers have long since got used to paying £x per month for a handset and wireless package that gives 200 minutes and/or 5GB of data per month.  

Move into the Prosumer and Business territory though, and volume-based discounts are often given depending on the size of the connection – so a business with 2000 lines will get a better rate than an SME with 5 lines. That’s natural supply and demand.  

But what happens is the whole infrastructure of telecoms billing and commerce systems are also fragmented as a result. Managing a self-care application that is used by a single consumer paying monthly is vastly different to enabling a corporation to use the same tool when they have 2000 lines and various levels of permission-based access.

The same occurs when the transaction takes place. The “Point of Sale” system is often driven by a product catalogue that can supply details of the tariff and account for what is being sold, and how much money should change hands initially. Not the case when a bespoke price is being entered into the system for the corporation.

The Solution:  Move to a telecoms-focused BSS and OSS combination of billing and commerce platforms that are tightly integrated and can handle the complexity of B2B as well as consumer.  

This also needs to happen in a retail setting - especially in a retail setting! A lot of telcos have tried (and failed) to introduce “B2B corners” in stores, but often they fail to staff them with specialists and people who understand the needs of small businesses. And still they segment their offerings, so a small business user is not able to get a great consumer tariff at a discount mixed in with their business needs.  

Or, even better, how about a super-fast dedicated business line to the home which means the business owner can lose the cost of their consumer connection, and segment the fixed and Wi-Fi aspects of the connections to meet their conflicting needs?  

So again, we are back to marketing and execution at the point of sale as to the success of this growing segment.

Who’s Doing It Right:  

Vodafone Group have a very mature network across multiple countries that are 100% focused on business customers. Each network has a product catalogue that provides offerings for everything a business could possibly need, including mobility, fixed line, and business service offerings. They even have a digital tool called “V-Hub” which acts as an online repository and knowledge base where business owners can find access and information to a deep plethora of tools that can help them thrive and cut costs at the same time.

5. Telcos Know Where They’re Digging, But Fail To Capitalise On It.

The Challenge:  I’m sure we can all empathise with the challenges of roadworks, and of trenches being dug, and cables being pulled under roads for all sorts of reasons. It’s painful. Telcos know for months where they are going to dig, and yet their acquisition efforts are often a damp squib.

As a consumer, do you know in advance when fibre is coming to your area? Sometimes. But often not far enough in advance to do anything about it, or how to switch away from your current wireless provider.

Some telcos employ door-to-door agents, but they are often rooted in the 1970’s tactics of door knocking, still shuffling pieces of paper as they try to convince you to sign.

The Solution:  The world is digital now – be digital with your door-to-door teams! With the right solutions, you can give customers a proper sales consultation experience. Using a platform-enabled tablet solution, agents can compare tariffs and channel packages, complete the transaction, handle the commerce, and schedule an installation appointment or equipment delivery right there and then. No follow up calls, messy letters, or other things that cause confusion. Do it there and then, in one go.

Here's another great idea - use self-service kiosks. Let’s say you are connecting a building with 400 apartments. Install a kiosk in the foyer area, make it easy to use and for people to sign up, and capture the whole building within days. Then, move the kiosk to your next big install area once you are done. This “robot salesperson” strategy provides a great ROI and allows people to quickly connect with you on their terms – no door visit required!  

Getting hyper local is the key to winning each and every home you pass. With the right planning, the right communication between your property and your sales teams, and coupled with the right technology, it can be done.

Who’s Doing It Right:

In short – no-one!

Each telco seems to take very differing and unique strategies in this space, and global best practices are very hard to find - Google it! This is very disappointing and is an area where all telecoms and fibre providers can improve.  

While many follow their installation with a door-to-door team, these are often outsourced to external agencies due to the transient and high turnover nature of these roles. Door-to-door sales is a tough gig, training is often scant, and getting quality people is a challenge.  

However, if telcos can divest their strategy to include more targeted e-commerce, mobile sign-up kiosks, pop-up retail in nearby shopping malls, etc., they can make huge improvements here!

Six share Virgin's fibre roll-out

Wrap Up

The consumer landscape is always changing, and Prosumers are just the latest evolution. I hope I’ve clarified the opportunity, given you some marketing ideas, and outlined how digital solutions can make signups and billing simple.

Are you tapping in the Prosumer market? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Offering insight and concrete solutions for telcos looking to take their business to the next level.

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