Phones 4U’s youth strategy


Phones 4U is to launch a new marketing campaign next month, removing the existing £2.5 million ‘Phones 4 Popular people’ advertisement which launched last summer.

The new campaign will run for longer than the previous one, and will be centred around the Phones 4U brand, unlike the previous advertising which focussed on new handsets available in store. Chief executive Tim Whiting would not disclose much detail about the new marketing campaign but said that it will have a satirical element, like previous campaigns.

Controversy has surrounded Phones 4U’s marketing campaigns – for example, one aspect of its most recent campaign was banned due to complaints about a character portraying an unpopular scout master. But, Whiting is unapologetic of having a controversial aspect to the marketing. He says adopting language and a style which is humorous is an easy way to speak with the market segment it wishes to attract – the 16 to 24 year old age group.

“Are we controversial? That depends on your definition of controversial,” says Whiting. “We have always had a licence to be controversial, targeted, edgy, call it what you will. Our view is we target our brand very much at the youth market so we can be more fun.”

Phones 4U has embarked upon a full retail estate makeover to bring its stores up to date with a contemporary feel, to further attract the youth market. To date, half of its 450-strong estate has been refurbished, with completion slated for June.

New stores have more products on the shop floor and have a brighter look and feel. Whiting says part of the reason to refurbish the stores is to ensure customers have access to a live demonstration from one of the store consultants.

“We see the ability to demonstrate what products do as being critical going forward. Mobiles are increasingly becoming more complex, so functionality has greater importance than form factor.

“Customers are increasingly interested in what the product actually does and how it does it. We believe that the interaction with a member of the Phones 4U staff gives the customer a better experience
than leaving them to figure outthe device themselves once they’ve purchased the phone.”

Phones 4U is to increase the product range in the newly refurbished stores, introducing Sky and Virgin television packages after successfully trialling the products in key ‘media stores’ across the country.

While stores are being refurbished, staffers will undergo training of the new products to ensure they are equipped to sell on to end users. Whiting says extending Phones 4U’s product range to include the television products was a natural extension.

“We are about mobility,” he says. “Sky would say it’s a player in the mobile market and so would Virgin – they want customers to access their products on the move.

“The partnership is complementary to us – both companies have a strong record of developing good propositions for customers and we’re good at understanding customer needs. The volume we will sell depends on consumer demands, but we’ve had positive feedback from stores selling them so far.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 462 – (April 26, 2010)

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