Telstra customers are overwhelmingly more likely to choose their mobile carrier based on coverage, while price is a bigger factor for Vodafone subscribers, according to new research from Roy Morgan Research.
The research asked Australian mobile phone customers over the age of 14 to nominate the most important factor in choosing their provider.
The figures show that coverage (but not rates) was the decisive factor for 60% of Telstra subscribers.
In contrast, just 2% of Telstra customers identified rates (but not coverage) as their deciding factor, and 6% cited both rates and coverage.
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This is in stark contrast to Vodafone customers, with just 6% listing coverage as their main deciding factor, compared to 33% listing price but not coverage, and 4% saying both were the decisive factor in their choice of provider.
Optus customers were somewhere in between, with 15% citing coverage but not price, 27% choosing price but not coverage, and 11% listing both.
The figures also show a significant city-country divide in how people choose a mobile phone carrier.
For 9.25 million consumers in Australia’s capital cities, 25% cited coverage (but not rates) as their key factor, 25% cited rates (but not coverage) and 7% cited both.
By comparison, Almost half (46%) of those in country areas include better network coverage on their list of reasons, nearly double the number for whom cheaper rates were a deciding factor (25%).
According to Roy Morgan Research general manager Tim Martin, the dichotomy between coverage and price is important in the Australian market.
“Our research shows that although the majority of Australian mobile phone owners chose their network provider in part based on its coverage quality or cheaper rates, very few of us say that both these considerations were a factor,” he said in a statement.
“This suggests mobile owners perceive quality and price as two distinct attributes, each offered by a different set of service providers.”
“Telcos have thus often tended to market their mobile services in one sphere or the other, but there could be valuable market area up for grabs if a provider could demonstrate—and market—both that cheaper rates don’t have to come at the expense of network quality and that highlighting extensive coverage does not imply premium pricing.”
Martin also notes that additional factors used to choose a mobile provider vary with age.
Younger consumers often choose a carrier based on recommendations from friends and family, with adults more concerned about factors including plans and new phone options.
Meanwhile, bundling mobile phones with other telecommunications products is a more important factor for older consumers.