How consumers feel amid rising mobile provider costs
February 7th, 2022, Hoang Nguyen

How consumers feel amid rising mobile provider costs

The pandemic has had an impact on the way we work, the way we consume, and the way we keep in touch. Over the years, networks have continued to invest in infrastructure to keep up with growing digital demands, which have only been accelerated during the pandemic; operators have met this by rolling out 5G and striving for better efficiencies in their networks.

Several mobile operators in the UK recently announced plans to raise monthly charges, explaining that they’re doing so to keep their services running and improve their networks amid the swell in data usage. Price increases have been common throughout the last year, especially for communications providers to combat business costs and inflation rates, but consumers may be proving more sensitive at this time with rapid rises in cost of living and higher energy prices.

Data from YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks brand health and performance on a daily basis, shows that consumer perceptions of Value toward all mobile operators remained relatively stable over the last quarter.

We ask customers every day which brands offer good and poor value for money and derive our Value score from the difference in responses. Evaluating the overall sector of mobile operators, there’s been a decline of 8-points in terms Net Value between the end of December 2021 (49) and the end of January 2022 (41).

Zooming into perceptions of BT, for example, our data shows that Value scores among customers of BT fell by 7-points during the first month of 2022. Value perceptions towards the brand sit well below that of the overall mobile operators' sector and saw a decline in November 2021 before bouncing back in December.

RELATED: Women more likely than men to hold favourable views of BT’s “Walk Me Home” service

With price increases coming in April 2022, we’ll be keeping an eye on if they affect BT’s Value scores and overall brand health. The pace of transformation and change in the telecoms sector means that it will more critical than ever to have up-to-date data to help brands monitor and manage consumer perceptions as the year unfolds.

While there’s an important distinction between a service’s price tag and the value it offers, mobile customers also prove to be sensitive to prices, especially over the last year. When we look at sentiment data concerning the most important factor to consumers when choosing a mobile operator, 28% say the cheapest prices overall drive their purchase decision—the top factor ahead mobile coverage quality (20%).

This is the case across customers of several mobile carriers including BT Mobile (30% say cheapest prices overall is the most important factor in choosing a mobile provider), giffgaff (36%), Tesco Mobile (33%), Virgin Mobile (35%) and Plusnet mobile (45%). By comparison, customers of EE say they hold mobile coverage quality in higher regard than cheap prices (25% vs. 17%) and Vodafone customers rank the two factors evenly (25% apiece).

With rising inflation affecting consumer confidence, it will be critical to keep an eye on how consumers are reacting in terms of their attitudes toward brands and spending. We’ll be tracking consumer behaviours in the coming months to help brands better understand their audiences and adapt to the situation as it continues to unfold.

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