1. Market situation
Status of the residential telco market at the start of 2020
A mature market with high level of convergent telco consumers, stable average revenue per user but… Belgium ranks only 16th position on connectivity in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) of the European Commission. While Belgium has nearly ubiquitous 4G coverage, it lags in 5G on both readiness (3% compared to an EU average of 51%) and coverage (4% against 14% at EU level).
Status of Proximus within the residential telco market at the start of 2020
Proximus realises that growth will not come from connectivity alone. The strategic vision 'Inspire2022', presented early 2020, is based on 4 pillars: build Belgium's best gigabitnetwork, transform the business model & IT processed to increase NPS, re-engage with profitable growth by expanding client bases and offering them new digital services and embed sustainability & inclusion in all its activities.
Together with the accelerated roll-out of Fiber, leadership in 5G will be key to realise the 'Inspire2022' vision. Without 5G, Belgium will fall back even more in the DESI ranking. Without 5G, Proximus can't offer advanced digital services that enable sustainability & inclusion.
Two years ahead of the competition, Proximus announces it will offer 5G via its existing frequencies on selected organisations
However, the breakout of the pandemic and rising mistrust to 5G (seen by some as closely linked to COVID) form a perfect storm. Most brands evaluate the sensitivity of their campaigns and a majority pull out altogether. There is rising civil mobilisation: change.org petitions (5G kills bees,…), the influential collective stop5G.be, vandalisation of Proximus stores,… Numerous mayors in the South oppose the (in their words) the 'brutal' 5G roll-out by Proximus. The first Proximus 5G campaign that was about to launch in April is retracted at the very last minute as the brand finds itself in a perfect storm and needs to re-adjust its strategy.
Mid 2020 presents an important moment in the history of the brand
- The risk: getting stuck in a cold and technological leadership perception -> risk of a negative circle.
- The opportunity: to be perceived as one of the driving forces in the digitalization of Belgium & improvement of everyday life
- Communication is key: To create a brand safe environment for a successful introduction of 5G in the coming months and years.
As the national market leader, Proximus takes its responsibility to give 5G a place in our lives. We reinvent the communication of the network based on 3 shifts:
- From Solitary to Empathy
Good communicators start with listening. Technology doesn't live on its own but is destined to be embedded in people's lives. Especially given the sensitive status of 5G, we need to be aware of the dreams and fears of the different segments of our target: from youth to old, from family to company.
- From Technology to Possibility
Awaiting the complete commercial roll-out, we can already show today how 5G empowers Belgians in their daily life. Starting from concrete situations, we will dramatize how our network (that relies heavily on 5G) reframes their everyday reality.
- From Individual to Societal
We serve more than only individual consumers and companies. We serve also the greater Belgian community with an inclusive view on technology that makes a more sustainable world possible. We bring our strategy to life via one clear creative idea with a societal/voluntaristic connotation: 'Proximus wants to make every place a perfect place'.
The execution consists of 3 distinctive execution levels:
- Thought leadership & Education
As a expert on the matter we make a list of arguments on the 'why' and 'what' of 5G targeted at early adopters.
- Mass Reach
The hero video execution zooms in on recognizable Belgian environments to dramatise the creative idea.
The roll-out of 5G is still in its early stage and evocative use cases don't exist yet. So, we create our own use cases with musician Konoba and visual artist Absumo.
18 months after we reinitiated the dialogue about 5G with the Belgian population, Proximus stands in pole position for the full roll-out of 5G.
- Our network leadership perception increases between the start of 2020 and the end of 2021, further widening our progress versus our main competitors.
- The campaign also helps positioning Proximus as the "owner" of 5G. Although we only start measuring product awareness midway the 18-month campaign period, we still see a significant improvement in only 9 months' time, clearly above the objective. 5G is now the n°1 product associated with Proximus.
- 5G is no longer a distant technology. One in three Belgian now thinks 5G will become indispensable for them personally.
- Further proof for the role of communication is given by the 3 post-tests that demonstrate above benchmark results for message likeability, take-out. During the 3 consecutive mass reach waves we have clearly established a positive communication territory in which our network message stands out and is understood.