According to a survey conducted by the firm Wave7 Research, Simple Mobile was the top-selling prepaid brand sold through independent dealers in the first quarter of 2021. This comes as no surprise to Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research, who says Simple Mobile regularly tops the survey. Moore and his firm have been tracking the quarterly performance of prepaid brands through the independent dealer channel since the first quarter of 2015 or for 25 straight quarters. The latest survey was conducted in February and March of 2021. A total of 30 dealers were surveyed in a variety of markets big and small including a dealer in a rural area and one in a small Iowa city. The full results of the survey are in the table below.
|Provider||Number of Dealers||1st Place||2nd Place||3rd Place||Also-Ran|
The "number of dealers" column indicates the number of dealers selling the brand. The "1st place" column denotes the number of dealers reporting the brand as their top seller, while "2nd place" etc., means the number of dealers reporting that as their second best selling brand.
Simple Mobile has been a long-standing top-selling prepaid brand for independent dealers. The Tracfone-owned brand ran a couple of promotions during the quarter exclusive to the dealer channel that no doubt helped to keep it a top seller. A $40 unlimited plan was offered late in the 4th quarter of 2020 that ran through all of quarter 1 of 2021. Simple Mobile's $40 plan normally includes 15GB of high-speed data at that price point. In the middle of the first quarter, a free month on us promotion was also launched. Simple Mobile ads are also regularly aired on TV and radio helping keep the brand's name fresh in the minds of consumers which certainly helps push sales.
H2O Wireless finished 2nd best in the survey and was carried in 21 out of the 30 stores surveyed. The brand was a top-3 seller in 76% of the dealer stores that carried it. H2O Wireless ran a TV ad in a limited number of markets during the quarter targeting Chicago and Houston. Ads in online digital channels were also run highlighting the iPhone 12 and an offer for 50% off the first month of wireless service. H2O Wireless offers cheap monthly plans with international calling and is one of the few providers to still cater to the pay as you go market.
Brands On The Rise?
Wave7 Research noted that Cricket Wireless first began appearing in its surveys during the 3rd quarter of 2020. It had no top-3 finishes during 2020 but in the first quarter of 2021, two of six dealers selling the brand said it was their 3rd bestseller.
Boost Mobile is also on the rise. In quarter 4 of 2020 it was carried in 8 stores out of 30 surveyed but that number increased to 11 in 1Q21. Boost Mobile was a top-2 selling brand in all 11 stores carrying it. Boost Mobile runs all kinds of dealer exclusive deals including free phone offers that no doubt help grow sales. During the quarter, Boost Mobile offered more than a dozen phones for free to switchers.
Brands On The Decline?
Lycamobile saw sharp declines in the independent dealer channel. It was only mentioned in 7 of the 30 dealers surveyed, down significantly from 3Q20 when it was in 15 of 30 stores. According to the National Wireless Independent Dealer Association, Lycamobile had an executive shakeup during 1Q21. Wave7 Research believes the shakeup could be a result of the brand's weaker performance in dealer channels.
"Simple Mobile was the big winner of this survey, as always, followed by H2O Wireless, Lycamobile has been slipping amid a shake-up of its executives. The big surprise is that Cricket Wireless now has a significant presence in the survey." -- Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research
T-Mobile's Metro by T-Mobile brand was withdrawn from the channel in 2020. Wave7 Research noted in a recent prepaid report that it sent out to subscribers that little effort is being put into T-Mobile Prepaid and the brand was only carried in 2 of the stores in 1Q21. Ultra Mobile was also down in the quarter with only 10 of 30 stores carrying it vs 16 of 30 in 4Q20. One dealer told Wave7 Research that he dropped Ultra in his stores because he was not happy with Ultra's compensation system.