Carphone Warehouse has put Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile in its sights with a new strategy to target the overseas calling market.
It has scrapped its flagging MobileWorld brand, and replaced it with ‘GlobeTalker’. It aims to push further into ethnic minority areas to market its deals and challenge Lebara and Lyca, the two virtual network success stories of the past 18 months.
Carphone is looking to lure customers by offering free international minutes on top of credit when customers top-up. A £10 top-up earns 50 free international minutes, while £50 gets 500 minutes of free calls to overseas.
Standard international call charges match prices offered by Lebara and Lyca, from 4p, and international texts are priced at 10p.
Carphone’s TalkMobile chief Paul Layte, who took over in May 2009, has been hatching plans to build a more successful business for the lucrative overseas calling market, which he says is worth one million customers and is growing.
GlobeTalker is poised to be on sale in 3,000 independent stores in ethnic minority areas in the coming weeks.
Carphone will also attempt to seize customers from Lebara and Lyca by bundling handsets with its deals, as well as selling Sim cards on their own. Both Lebara and Lyca have considered and even dabbled with bundled handsets, but have withdrawn due to box-breaking fears.
Carphone will launch with its exclusive Nokia 5300 touch-screen for £130 but will start offering cheaper handsets later.
Layte said the new process was developed after looking at how it sold MobileWorld, and vowed Carphone is adapting its strategy accordingly: ‘Last time, we only sold through Carphone stores, and we’ve now gone deeper into the communities. It’s taken us a long time to understand the customers and the distribution channels for this market.’
Carphone negotiated a wholesale agreement two years ago with Vodafone, and recently reviewed it to have all of its new MVNO business signed up on the Vodafone network instead of previous partner, T-Mobile.
Carphone lines up unlimited text deals to lure teens
Carphone Warehouse is also launching another own-brand MVNO, this time aimed at the teenage market.
Its ‘TextMania’ deal differs to the main networks’ prepay deals by offering unlimited texts in all of its bundles, but is varied by time.
One £5 top-up earns unlimited texts for one week, while £10 gets two weeks, £15 gets three weeks and £20 is enough for four weeks.
Layte said research showed customers valued unlimited texts and couldn’t keep track of how many texts they were using.
He added: ‘Topping up £30 for networks such as Orange and Vodafone is really out of reach for that target market. With us, you can top up little and often.’
Carphone has been gradually phasing out its former prepay brand ‘Fresh’ over the past 18 months.
The retailer has agreed a deal with HSBC to offer its TextMania Sims for under 25 year olds who join the bank, as well as giving GlobeTalker to new arrivals from overseas who set up UK bank accounts.