Building on the company’s view that its competitors only offer rewards as an incentive for subscribers to spend more money, the T-Mobile initiative rewards customers simply for being customers. While those who want to participate in the Stock-Up initiative do not have to spend any money, they do have to ensure their family and friends sign up to a post-paid contract, in a similar manner social media uses viral marketing to promote apps and games.
“Get ready for a gratitude adjustment, America! This Un-carrier move is all about giving you a good thanking! No strings. No gotchas. Just ‘thank you for being a customer!’” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. “At T-Mobile, we already wake up every day working for our customers—so I’ve decided to make it official and turn T-Mobile customers into T-Mobile owners by offering them stock. And we’re thanking customers every week with cool stuff from brands people love. For free. Every Tuesday!”
Newer customers will receive one share for every successful referral, whereas those who have been customers for five years or more will receive two. An individual can receive up to 100 shares a year on the scheme, which is managed by T-Mobile’s brokerage partner, LOYAL3. Aside from the shares, subscribers can also receive more conventional rewards including free in-flight, Domino’s pizza, holidays to Las Vegas, hiking trips to Machu Picchu, as well as other prizes.
T-Mobile currently accounts for 15.8% of the US market share, according to statistics from Ovum’s WCIS service, which has been steadily increasing from 13.9% in June 2014. The Un-carrier initiative was launched in March 2013, seemingly as a means to differentiate the brand in the US, made stronger strides into the post-paid market and increase brand loyalty. While the stock initiative could be perceived by some as a PR stunt, it could have an impact on brand loyalty, as customers may feel more affinity to T-Mobile should they own a small percentage of the company, as well as acquiring new post-paid customers.
The overall Un-carrier strategy itself would appear to be a successful initiative, as the company recently reported healthy Q1 results including subscriber gain, revenue growth, churn reduction and an improved forecast for the remainder of 2016. The company claims it acquired 2.2 million customers over the period, marking its 12th consecutive quarter of over 1 million customer acquisitions. Ovum suggests T-Mobile were amongst the biggest winners of Q1 with AT&T bringing in 1.8 million new customers, Verizon 2.2 million and Sprint just 500,000.