T-Mobile US courts subscribers with share give-away

T-Mobile US has launched its new #GetThanked initiative to engage existing customers and recruit new ones, offering various rewards including stock in the company.

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 offers one share in the company to every current primary subscriber. Additional shares can also be earned via referrals that result in a new post-paid contract, drawing on the kind of viral marketing techniques common on social media.

“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.

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