New research suggests that mobile consumers in Western Europe are displaying less loyalty than those in North America by spreading their mobile connections across multiple operators. The new study, commissioned by Wireless Intelligence, aims to identify the impact that multiple mobile connections per user is having on customer loyalty patterns (a mobile connection is defined as either a SIM card or a unique mobile phone number in markets where SIM cards are not used).
More than two thirds of users with multiple mobile connections in the US and Canada remained loyal to a single mobile operator, while less than 40 percent of consumers in the ‘big five’ European markets (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) were likely to keep all their mobile connections with one operator. The least ‘loyal’ market in the study was Italy – a market where the vast majority of consumers maintain more than one mobile connection (around 1.77 SIM cards per user). According to the study, 81 percent of Italians spread their mobile connections across different network providers with only 19 percent remaining loyal. This trend is magnified by the absence of handset subsidies and the large prepaid connections base (prepaid accounted for 84 percent of Italian mobile connections in 2Q09). This has led to a price war in the prepaid segment, which is driving down effective price per minute and voice revenues. In order to differentiate and generate additional profits, Italian operators are now focusing on value-added services and innovative propositions to push their brands forward. In this context, our research also found that Italy has is approaching saturation with ‘real’ penetration currently at 85 percent – compared to reported per-connections penetration at 151 percent. The study found that Italian women were less loyal than men (83 percent compared to 78 percent), and that users in the 20 to 30 year age range were least likely to stay loyal to a single operator.