Ken’s Tech Tips Index: Tesco Mobile, Three on the up whilst the big four lose out

October 25th, 2010

Our first study of switching intention finds that Tesco Mobile and 3 are doing well in the market whereas the big networks are falling behind.

What is the Ken’s Tech Tips Index?

The Ken’s Tech Tips Index is our first study looking into how well each mobile phone network is performing in terms of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. Using data from the PAC Code Finder tool and people’s stated intention of how they’ll switch network, the Ken’s Tech Tips Index answers the question of how rapidly a network is gaining and losing new customers. More specifically the index score is “the number of customers who join a given network for every 100 customers who leave that network”.

If a network has a high score in the Ken’s Tech Tips Index, it means they are gaining customers a lot faster than they lose them. This is perhaps a good indication that the products they provide are better value for consumers (or alternatively, it could just mean they are doing a great job with publicity or sales).

A score above 100 in the index means that network is gaining customers faster than it is losing them. Meanwhile a score of below 100 is bad news: it means the network is losing customers faster than it can replace them.

There are two ways by which a network can improve their Ken’s Tech Tips Index score. They can either attract more new customers or they can better retain their existing customers. The ways by which a network can do this is to provide better value to consumers, better customer service and support and a better customer experience.

How do the networks fare in the index?

Our first study is run across 45 days in September and October (September 5th to October 19th) with n=2800 unique submissions. The best performing network by some margin is Tesco Mobile (485 new customers for every 100 customers who leave) and the worst performing network is T-Mobile (only 67 customers join T-Mobile for every 100 customers who leave T-Mobile). Notably, the only two networks which seem to be gaining customers overall are both small players: Tesco Mobile and Three. The big networks (particularly O2 and T-Mobile) are both doing poorly perhaps because they’ve both been slow to respond to the changing needs of the market.

Rank Network Ken’s Tech Tips Index (higher is better)
1 Tesco Mobile 484.6
2 Three 188.5
3 Orange 94.8
4 Vodafone 93.1
5 Virgin Mobile 78.3
6 O2 74.7
7 T-Mobile 67.1

Why are Tesco Mobile and Three doing so well?

In our first published index, Tesco Mobile and Three appear to be gaining a huge number of customers from the larger networks. We put this down to several reasons:

  • Tesco Mobile have launched some incredibly good value SIM-only tariffs recently. Tesco’s £6/month SIM-only tariff offers 100 minutes and unlimited texts for example (see our review) and has been a big hit. We also found in our study of the best value SIM-only tariffs that Tesco usually provided the best value 1-month rolling SIM-only deals. We believe consumers appreciate flexibility and are increasingly finding these 1-month rolling SIM-only tariffs attractive.
  • Since their brand refresh earlier this year, Three have launched some incredibly exciting deals. They’ve undercut everybody else on the Apple iPhone, launched a tariff offering virtually unlimited calls, texts and data for £25/month and more recently refreshed a £10/month smartphone SIM-only tariff which consumers have found popular. The bad news is that Three recently withdrew many of the freebies from their 3Pay Pay As You Go tariff. Whilst we don’t foresee a mass exodus of customers from Three as existing customers still keep their freebies, we think O2’s Text and Web tariff will pick up many of the customers who were originally attracted to 3Pay.
  • Generally, we think people are now more aware of how easy it is to change network and to keep their existing phone number. For many people, this fear of changing number has been a barrier to switching network and finding better deals. We expect the trend of improved awareness will continue and smaller networks such as Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and Three will benefit by gaining customers from the large networks.

Where can I find out what deals are being offered by Tesco and Three?

For details of the deals available on Tesco Mobile and Three, visit the Tesco Mobile or Three websites.

Notes on our study…

  • Our study measures intention to switch and not whether customers actually go ahead and make that switch. However, we expect this data to be strongly correlated. Our study also fails to consider customers who might switch network but decide not to switch number  (customers who don’t use a PAC Code).
  • The sample size is n=2800 users of the PAC Code Finder tool. We have only analysed data in aggregate form and no personal details are collated during this study.
  • We have excluded Asda Mobile and Giffgaff from our index due to limited data – so few people (n < 50) said they were switching from/to those networks that our results would have had incredibly large error bars. Had they been included, they would have scored 163.2 and 744.4 respectively. Given that Giffgaff is such a new network, we would expect them to have a high score simply for the fact that there are very few existing customers who are able to leave the network.
  • Please contact Ken if you have any questions on the study.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our “Ken’s Tech Tips Index”. What are your views on the methodology used or the results of the study? Should we run this study again? Do you have any ideas on how to improve the study? Please drop us a comment below and let us know… we can’t wait to hear from you!

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

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