Sprint Prepaid Wireless Multi-Brand Strategy!
Are you interested in learning about the Sprint prepaid wireless
strategy? Sprint has really been flailing all over the place
for years as its postpaid business has been suffering, along with its
prepaid brands. Sprint's history in prepaid is a long one,
including some tremendous investments in the
no contract wireless space in 2009 and 2010. On May 6th 2010,
less than a year after it acquired
Virgin Mobile USA
, Sprint announced its multi-brand
If you haven't yet read the discussion
about its brand strategy
options, you can catch up by heading over to Sprint
Acquires Virgin Mobile
There's no doubt that Sprint's approach can be really
confusing, always seems to be changing, and often
seems strategically unsound.
Some of the elements of the options explored ended up being a
part of the Sprint prepaid wireless strategy, however, admittedly, I
missed the mark when it
comes to how they ultimately ended up approaching the prepaid market
with their brand portfolio approach!
just goes to show you that the prepaid wireless industry is just so
dynamic and complex; I think that's why I love this industry so much!
That's not to say that I personally agree with the approach
they took. In fact, I like to call Sprint's chosen approach
the lazy-person's approach to
market segmentation, and no doubt their back end operations are
tremendously inefficient and costly. However, one thing that
I have learned over
the years working in prepaid is that there's always more than one way
to be successful. And to the contrary, there's also more than
one way to lead to failure as well. Anyway, let's take a look
the Sprint prepaid wireless strategy:
Sprint's Multiple Prepaid
[at the time of the announcement]
How Are Sprint's Prepaid
- Boost Mobile - While
for the meantime it will continue to offer pay-as-you-go and monthly
plans, Boost is focusing on the best value when it comes to unlimited
talk and text.
- Virgin Mobile
- The Virgin brand became focused on what they called
Beyond Talk, meaning that they would offer the best value in unlimited
messaging, email, Web, and data. Note that this includes Prepaid
offers (which they discontinued in 2016). Voice minutes are
included, though not unlimited unless you buy up to their highest plan.
Wireless - Assurance
Wirelesss was Sprint's Free
Cell Phone Service for low income households. It's
available in select markets and continually expanding. That
said, Sprint sold off a majority stake to Access Wireless in an attempt
to simplify its business in 2016.
Things to Note/Consider
about the Sprint Prepaid Wireless Strategy:
- Common Cents
Common Cents was a new brand that was announced
along with their multi-brand strategy as a PAYG program initially
exclusive to Walmart that focused solely on low usage, cost
conscious customers. It launched at a flat $0.07/min rate
with a unique-to-the-industry feature of rounding DOWN to the nearest
minute instead of the standard rounding up to the nearest minute.
This brand was never successful and was discontinued in 2011,
barely a year following its official launch.
- Both Boost and Virgin offer smartphones in their
handset lineups, however, Virgin is expected to carry the higher end
phones. Note that this strategy never really came to
fruition, and Virgin ultimately started offering iPhones, Samsung
Galaxy smartphones, and the like.
- To get unlimited talk, text, and Web on Virgin, it
cost $10 more than the same features on Boost.
My Two Cents About the
Sprint Prepaid Wireless Brand!
- Virgin discontinued its PAYG
(per minute) plans, while Boost continued to offer its PAYG plan.
Note that Boost also discontinued its daily plan
I strongly believe that Sprint leadership had a
tremendously difficult time deciding how to manage their brands.
Assurance Wireless is easy and largely lives on its own.
Common Cents Mobile seemed to be a good way to focus on the
super low end of the market without diluting its unlimited programs,
and having a clear message to target to value conscious
customers. However, it failed extremely quickly.
Boost and Virgin seem to get a lot more complex. Each brand
on its own has sufficient equity to not want to eliminate one of them.
And while Sprint management believes that they target
different segments of the market, I have to believe that there is more
overlap that they're willing to admit. So in the short term
they differentiated the brands by having one focus on voice and text,
while the other focuses on messaging, email, and data.
HOWEVER, I believe that in the long run, many of the
that I explored previously will still need to be considered.
The logical /conclusion here is that Sprint still has a lot of
perhaps experimentation!) to do with how to handle the Virgin and
Boost brands in the long run, and only time will tell. But
one thing is for
certain - things will not remain as they are; they never do!