Keeping Up With the Connections

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Mobile device and operator preferences in Europe

There are 4.7 billion mobile devices in the world. The average person spends five hours per day on their phone, and 81% have their mobile within arm’s reach every minute of the day. They have fast become our most prized possession, helping us achieve everything from communication and navigation to weekly shopping needs.

As smartphones are no longer limited to providing basic phone and internet services, the telco industry has found itself at the epicentre of huge technological excitement and growth. A growth that shows no sign of slowing as we enter an era of advanced artificial intelligence and super-fast 5G network services. By 2021, spending on 5G is expected to reach 2.3 billion U.S dollars, as it promises faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and devices.

As the next wave of innovation leads the way for a smarter and more connected world, competition for user attention amongst telecommunication companies heats up. Subscriber churn and retention have become the two most perennial challenges facing telco companies, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) today.

Our Study

To take a closer look at which players are pulling ahead, Ogury studied the performance of a list of notable names within the telco and OEM sector, to gain deep insights on device and operator migration in Germany, UK, France, Spain, and Italy. The study monitored mobile journey patterns from millions of consumers throughout the months of December 2018 and January 2019.

Huawei: The One to Watch?

With device preference and loyalty, the big two – Apple and Samsung – were expected to come out on top across all countries. However, in Germany, Samsung suffered the largest shift, with the highest number of users moving to Apple and other brands such as Huawei. The Chinese manufacturer also became the biggest gainer on Android in the region, moving from 9% to a 17% share during the study period.

Huawei also came out on top in France and Italy, marking a significant overall reputational increase for the brand. In France, it represented 23.1% of churners, with 47% of its clients coming from Samsung. In Italy, 27.8% of churners also changed to the Chinese manufacturer, to position it at its highest level in all Western European markets.

Despite Huawei’s noticeable growth, Samsung is still hugely popular. In the UK it enjoys its highest levels of loyalty, with 74% of users remaining with the brand when they change device or operator. The S9 also remained a consistently prevalent model across all countries, as it claimed 33.6% of all renewed devices in the UK and reached the number one most favoured device amongst users making a change in France. It was also the number one model chosen by renewing customers in Germany, with users most commonly migrating from the Galaxy S7 to the S9 device.

Operator Loyalty & Devotion

When observing consumer loyalty to mobile operators in Germany, results generally aligned to average expectation, with many users remaining loyal to networks. Only 6.1% of churners changed operator when renewing their device, while 35% retained both the brand and operator they had. Deutsche Telekom not only obtained the most loyal users, but also became the biggest gainer of new customers during the study period. This coincides with Huawei’s growing user acquisition, perhaps as a direct result of a strong relationship garnered between the two brands and targeted marketing.

Overall, the UK’s MNOs saw the most dedication from users. Achieving the lowest churn rates in Western Europe, the UK saw only 4% of users change operators during the study period. Out of the biggest network names (including Vodafone, O2 and Three), EE saw the strongest user loyalty, with only 3% of those choosing to change their device and leave the network for a new MNO.

In direct contrast, network affection was less widely shared in Spain and Italy. On average, 14% of churners changed operator when looking to renew or change their devices in the two regions. This rose to up to 35% in some instances, as was evident with user affiliation to network operator Iliad in Italy.

Men & Millennials Lead the Charge for Change

When considering socio-demographics, men were the most common churners across all regions, with the millennial age group taking the lead in as the most likely to make a move. Italy saw the highest ratio of male churners in our study at 70%. This was closely followed by Spain at 61%. A more even split was seen in Germany however, with only 52% of male churners being demonstrated in the region.

Amongst the study group, millennials of both sexes were most commonly seen to change device or operator. Results showed that 33% of millennials in Germany, 29% in the UK and France, 42% in Spain and up to 50% in Italy, moved during the study period. This was most likely down to the ‘Christmas present effect’, as the group looked to upgrade devices during the gifting season.

For this particular study, Ogury generated deep insights on operator and device churn from millions of consumers across Germany, UK, France, Spain and Italy, between December 2018 and January 2019. To learn more about how Ogury’s mobile user journey data can help your business reach its ideal users, contact us directly –

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