Virgin Media’s new bundles of joy

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Virgin Media is on the march, determined to significantly grow its contract customer base by cross-selling its existing customers into other product areas. Paul Withers talks exclusively to Virgin’s director of mobile

Virgin Media director of mobile Jamie Heywood has only been in the UK hot seat for five months, but already has a clear vision of how the company’s quad-play strategy can differentiate itself from others and create its own unique market.

Virgin’s product areas comprises television, broadband, home phone and, of course, mobile, and Heywood sees the opportunities of cross-selling between each to significantly increase the company’s contract mobile base.

The most recent example of this was introduced at the start of the month, when Virgin offered home phone customers on its ‘M’ tariff the chance to use its ‘Monthly Mobile Bonus’ bundle deal, which Virgin claimed could save customers £192 over a 24-month contract.

Customers on the M tariff who opt for a mobile deal on this contract length will get a choice of any handset from Virgin’s range, on tariffs of £15.99 and above.

This is similar to a deal Virgin launched in April, whereby home phone customers taking the ‘XL’ (Talk Anytime) phone package are offered a choice of the Nokia N8, HTC Wildfire and BlackBerry curve handsets, with a monthly line-rental saving of £8. Deals for the Wildfire and N8 cost £17.53 and £14.95 a month respectively with the discount. The Curve 8520 costs £7.32 a month.

Those taking the ‘L’ (Talk Evenings and Weekends) phone package can choose the handsets and save £4 a month on their monthly line rental. Deals for the Wildfire and N8 cost £21.53 and £18.95 respectively a month with the discount, with the Curve 8520 costing £11.32 a month.

In addition, customers who have both a Virgin mobile and Virgin Media home phone package receive free Virgin-to-Virgin calling between home landlines and mobiles.

Contract space
The aim is to grow the 12 per cent of Virgin Media households that have a Virgin mobile so somewhere in excess of 70 per cent of contract mobile acquisitions come from Media households.

As a result Virgin, a company known for its presence in the prepay market, is looking to make a big impact in the contract space, boosted by handsets from the likes of HTC, BlackBerry and Samsung.

Heywood says: “The feeling I had when I began talking with the team here on my thoughts about mobile within a quad-play company, is there is a lot to be done and many opportunities ahead in terms of how we bring four products together in a way consumers understand and see the value in. There are no other companies in the UK that can do this as well as we can.”

Heywood also talks of innovative products and services that can intrigue customers. This is emphasised by the company striking an exclusive agreement with digital music service Spotify last month, which makes Virgin Media the only digital entertainment provider in the UK to offer the music platform across multiple services. The partnership is due to go live before the end of the year.

It sees Spotify’s catalogue of more than 13 million tracks made available to customers online, through their mobile or via their televisions. Over four million customers will have the option to access music in this safe and legal way. Virgin Media will also be the only UK digital entertainment provider to integrate Spotify into its connected television offering, through its TiVo service, as well as being able to provide a bundled solution for customers with mobiles.

The service will be available to new and existing Virgin Media customers through a range of special offers. This will include Spotify Unlimited, which will give customers unlimited access to Spotify’s full library of music, advertisement-free, on their computers; and Spotify Premium, which adds the ability to enjoy the complete library through their mobile devices.

“There are some very interesting and innovative products that we’re delivering through converging the mobile and entertainment space,” Heywood says.

“There are a lot of opportunities to bring TiVo and those on-demand entertainment services and mobile together. And there are certainly benefits as far as our ability to offer differentiated and innovative products into market that others can’t offer.

“The multi-product strategy delivers great value to customers. We see much higher customer satisfaction and lower churn from customers that have multi-products. If a Media customer has a mobile, their churn is significantly lower than if they don’t have mobile. That comes down to integrated products and services and bringing those together.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 496 (August 29, 2011).

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