Mobile Carrier Race Tightest In Six Years

Ted MarzilliCEO YouGov Direct
August 26, 2016, 6:26 PM GMT+0

Consumer perception of the four major mobile carriers is the tightest it’s been in six years, thanks to Verizon’s slow recovery from its labor strike and Sprint’s summer-long upsurge.

Back in mid-May, YouGov BrandIndex reported Verizon sank to a six-year perception low shortly after 36,000 workers walked out on strike. The strike may have ended two weeks later, but perception has been slow recovering, and is still several points below its pre-strike levels almost three months later.

In early July, Verizon announced that it would increase most data allowances, add a rollover feature for unused data and implement price hikes. Consumer perception has increased modestly over the month of July and into August.

Sprint, the category’s laggard, rose to its highest perception mark in more than a year this past summer. The jump coincided with its announcement as Amazon Prime’s exclusive wireless retailer, allowing customers to add a Prime subscription for $10.99 per month. In July, Sprint customers who signed up for those subscriptions were given 60 free days of Prime.

Back in June T-Mobile announced T-Mobile Tuesdays including exclusive promotions and rewards, as a thank you to their customers. Keeping their momentum in August was the surprise news of a shift to a single wireless plan offering unlimited data.

With T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint on the rise, and Verizon yet to fully rebound, three of the carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T) are in a virtual perception tie while Sprint is the closest it’s been to all three since June 2013, when revelations of the NSA collecting phone records from carriers sent all their perception levels plummeting.

To measure perception, YouGov BrandIndex used its Buzz score, which asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" A score can range from 100 to -100 with a zero score equaling a neutral position.

Buzz: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint