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YouGov research shows new mobile phone players luring customers away from operators

Saf Malik
March 30, 2020

Research indicates that special offers are driving customers away from conventional networks

YouGov research has shown that between December 2018 and December 2019, seven per cent (approx 3.6 million people) of the adult phone-owning population changed their network operator.

The research has shown that MVNOs gained over 54 per cent of mobile switchers and lost just 37 per cent while MNOs lost 63 per cent and gained 46 per cent. Both MVNOs and MNOs have a net gain of 17 per cent.

MVNO and MNO losses are down on 2018 (where they stood at 23 per cent and 21 per cent respectively), the data suggests that virtual network operators’ low-cost, no-frills approach to mobile services is continuing to pay off at the expense of traditional networks.

People switching from MVNOs and MNOs tend to give similar reasons for switching although MVNOs outperform MNOs in key categories,

For example, more than four out of ten (44 per cent) MVNO joiners said they did so because the tariffs represented value for money.

Over a third (37 per cent) of MVNO joiners said they wanted the cheapest tariffs compared to 22 per cent of MNO joiners. Operators that offer additional services such as broadband or Pay TV (e.g. BT, Sky or Virgin) were at a significant advantage and the research indicates these were considerable drivers for joining.

MNOs won in categories that had more to do with technological and technical benefits. For example, a fifth (20 per cent) claim they joined MNOs for the handset on offer vs. a tenth (10 per cent) of MVNO joiners. 23 per cent cited good data coverage versus 20 per cent and 22 per cent referenced voice coverage as opposed to 19 per cent.

Overall spend has increased year on year but switchers do tend to spend less with the network they join. In 2019, the average spend was £19.45 per month with the operator they left – and spent an average of £18.73 with the network they joined.

If adjusted for the entire population YouGov research shows that switchers used to spend around £70,000,000 a month, and now spend around £67,400,000 a month.

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