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As the 5G talk turns to action, consumers still lack knowledge

Brands need to clearly explain how faster networks will improve life

Lauded as the next big thing in the telco industry for a few years now, 5G has only recently captured consumers interest. This year’s Mobile World Congress featured announcements of a number of 5G-ready phones that will be launched this year by brands such as Samsung, LG, and Huawei. At the same time, mobile network providers have also only just started talking about 5G networks, with pockets of 5G hotspots available in limited locations in the US and South Korea. Most of the discussion thus far has been among industry experts, and the capabilities of 5G for businesses IoT.

When we ran a quick poll in the UK asking what 5G means, a third of respondents did not know what it means for them. Faster download speed is the only key advantage most consumers can recognize. Given that the majority of consumers are able to get most of what they need from streaming and downloads with 4G data speed, telecom providers have a lot to do in convincing people to upgrade. In addition to that, telecom providers are facing a number of road blocks on the route to 5G, including regulatory restrictions, investment constraints, and a slow-growth environment.

To overcome these challenges and create a successful 5G launch, it is imperative for telecom providers to make the consumer benefits more apparent and relevant. As a start, telecom providers should ride on the wave of changing consumer behavior. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in how people consume content and entertainment. Being able to articulate how 5G allows a smoother streaming and faster downloading experience will be a sensible first step in marketing an upgrade for 5G. Contextualizing the environment people can stream and consume content based on the 5G hotspot locations will help to bring it to life for consumers, without creating potential disappointment with limited coverage.

Telecom providers also need to move away from the technical speak, such as “latency” describing how the reaction time between command and response will become imperceptible. Using clear and compelling examples, telecom providers need to show consumers how 5G-enabled IoT capabilities can improve their lives. For example, e-sports has emerged as a new category for which 5G provides excellent functional capabilities. Are there other emerging industries or categories that telecom providers can tap into?

Would other technological capabilities, such as augmented reality be the next frontier to enhance consumer experience? Are there any cross-brand collaborations that telecom providers can participate in, in order to create a name for themselves in the IoT space, which will eventually help the sector to be seen as more than just the “pipe” for communications? To answer these questions, brands should take a human-centric approach through all stages of development, from innovation to marketing and experience management.

 

Written by Winnie Cheng, Director, Client Services Kantar

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