The survey also shows prevalent confusion about what MVNOs are and how they are different from the major mobile networks. One of the biggest misconceptions about MVNOs is that they have weaker network signals, with 38 percent of respondents believing they would get a better signal from a major network than an MVNO. On the other hand, 28 percent of respondents believe that MVNOs offer contract flexibility, and 19 percent expect MVNOs to offer more “perks.”
If the U.K. is in any way indicative of what consumers in other advanced markets believe, MVNOs have a long way to go in terms of convincing consumers that their product is worthwhile. As a first step, they need to explain what exactly their product is.
The fact this ignorance remains, even though MVNOs have been in the marketplace for a long time, and in spite of their advertising and marketing campaigns, is remarkable. While it is possible the finding is an anomaly pertaining only to the U.K., we feel it likely points to a larger problem, which is that many MVNOs leverage existing customer bases to get business and focus their marketing on fairly narrow specifics, without advocating for the MVNO concept in a broader way. The result is, potential customers may not really understand how an MVNO works, why signal strength should be a non-issue, and what advantages MVNOs may have over major providers for certain kinds of customers.
On the other hand, in many markets there are simply too many MVNOs and some of them are based on gimmicky concepts. Public lack of understanding of their raison d’être is often to be expected. The main point is, if an MVNO is established in response to a genuine market need, it has the potential to do well, but it must not assume that customers know what an MVNO is or that they have confidence that it is fully functional.
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