American consumers typically spend $50 to $120 on their cellular phone plans. Imagine paying half of that? Or even whittling it down to $15 per month?
"We hear ‘it sounds too good to be true’ every single day," said Aron North, senior vice president of marketing and creative at Ultra Mobile, which operates Mint Mobile -- an online-only wireless firm selling phone packages at absurdly-low prices.
"We looked at all the disruption that’s happening in the marketplace right now, online versus traditional retail -- it’s taking place across tons of different categories and there’s really no reason why wireless hasn’t been part of it. So we look at ourselves as the initiator of disruption in the space," said North.
The two-year-old brand is still in its infancy, but it’s quickly gaining popularity with plans as low as $15 per month. That’ll get you two gigs of 4G LTE, unlimited domestic talk and text, and unlimited talk to Canada and Mexico.
Packages are offered in three, six or 12-month increments. The more months you buy, the better the pricing. The most expensive plan (12 months for 10 gigs a month on 4G LTE) will set you back $25 a month, or $300 for the year. You can buy all plans in bulk. Imagine that: no phone bills for an entire year -- customers are telling North they’re saving around $80 per month with Mint.
"What makes Mint different is that it’s an all-online purchase and management service," said North, who brought over his expertise following a five-year stint at Taco Bell. "No stores, no sales staff. We are the Dollar Shave Club, or Warby Parker of wireless. We’ve completely reinvented the purchasing process and have eliminated lots of erroneous costs. We’re passing those savings onto the customer."
The mobile marketplace was built on a retail-basis, with the big four carriers dominating the space. And while the brick-and-mortar landscape is shrinking in America, phone providers are still opening stores across the states. They’re a one-stop-shop for devices, plans, network and all those other groovy add-ons like insurance, screen protectors and sparkly phone cases.
While Mint Mobile is offering plans it claims are much, much cheaper than the competition, you’ll still have to pony up the dough for the actual device elsewhere (a small reminder that iPhone X models will set you back up to $1,149). It’s not clear how this component will slot into wireless-buying of the future.
In the meantime, North and his team of creatives are busy marketing the idea that the firm’s product is a game-changer.
"People are constantly challenging us," said Aron. "Having come from Taco Bell, insight-based marketing is absolutely critical if you want to cut through. You have to start with a great brief, and our brief very much talked about how there is this real-world insight where people feel like it’s too good to be true. So when we were building the campaign, we really took that nugget to heart."
Today marks the launch of Mint Mobile’s "That’s Not Right" campaign. North said the team invested in a robust broadcast buy and created a string of fun, digital executions which will play out on social media platforms, YouTube and splash website like CarpetShowers.com. It captures the "nope" thought of taking a shower in a carpet-covered cubicle in a rather surprisingly comical way.
The next step is getting people through the metaphorical door. Mint’s hoping to tempt with trial offers so customers can physically test the network and get a feel for the service over a number of days. Buy a package and still don’t like it? All of them are covered by a refund plan.
It’s too early to tell if Ultra Mobile’s efforts to disrupt the marketplace is enough to leave the big boys quaking in their boots. But Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile aren’t blind to the tectonic shift rumbling under the space -- that’s why the last two have finally merged in a bid to double work on building a 5G network. They say it’ll offer customers an unparalleled service without a mammoth price hike.
"This is an incredibly competitive marketplace," North added. "What you have to do is communicate to customers why you’re different, why you’re better, why you’re special. And we think that this all-online business model is a real winner and is the next phase of growth within the wireless space.
"It’s a breakthrough place to be in. Because we’re the first to be there, we want to bring innovation into that space so customers feel confident in purchasing from us."