It’s no secret that 5G will open new consumer services and experiences, and expand enterprise opportunities across a wide range of verticals and use cases. A substantial upgrade from 4G in terms of latency, capacity, speed and bandwidth, this fifth-generation network technology is more than hype. It’s the catalyst in an evolution in advanced products and services that includes everything from mobile, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality, the “internet of things” (IoT) and more.
Promise doesn’t automatically equal profitability, however. According to Gartner Inc, “by 2022, half of the CSPs [communications service providers] that have completed commercial 5G deployments will fail to monetize their back-end technology infrastructure investments due to systems not fully meeting 5G use case requirements.”
A new 5G marketing mindset centered around use cases and service differentiation is critical for marketers to hit their mark. The right strategy starts with asking how 5G can impact fundamental marketing strategies and product mix across multiple industries. Marketers must scrap current playbooks and open their imagination to the possibilities of the what, where and how of their portfolios. Marketing 5G requires a rethink of your four P’s: product, place, price and promotion.
Product: Rethink What You’re Selling
Things that aren’t possible today, like virtual experiences and tutorials, will be a reality in the 5G world. 4G has served consumers well in some use cases, but I believe 5G will enable vastly richer customer experiences.
Want a VR cooking lesson, an in-home mixed reality interior design consultation or to experience a live event through the power of VR? Think about a MasterClass series, but with Natalie Portman actually “teleporting” into your living room to give you that introductory acting class. It’s possible.
The entire sharing economy stands to benefit immensely as people more readily experience that vacation home, sailboat or sports car they’ve been thinking about renting or buying. 5G has the bandwidth to support tens of millions of these types of connections and experiences, and 5G-enabled products are at the heart of these experiences.
Marketers need to use 5G to differentiate key products as part of their marketing portfolio and rethink what they’re selling. Don’t just tout a product; leverage 5G to sell the experience that product enables.
Gaming companies like PlayStation used to sell only consoles and games. Today, they sell competitive experiences — the ability to become a champion and establish oneself within a virtual community. That’s the new reality of product buy-in and sales in a 5G world. Marketers need to sell consumers on the full 5G product experience, not just the product alone.
Place: Deliver Where Consumers Want It
5G networks will deliver a massive boost in latency, and as new devices emerge, that latency advantage will change our interconnected world. Consumers no longer have to go to the store or their laptop to find out about, test or buy products. With 5G, products can be marketed to customers anywhere, leveraging a multitude of new devices, including those that might even be better suited to a specific product.
Given the COVID-19 crisis, social distancing has become the new normal. That doesn’t mean there aren’t options to take advantage of 5G and advertising — on the contrary. Take fitness studios, for example. Advertising can be done directly to connected health devices, and starting packages can be virtual classes delivered as at-home options. Next-tier 5G offerings could even support one-on-one virtual personal training sessions.
Marketers will be able to deliver what a customer wants, where and when they want it, because network capacity will no longer be an issue with 5G.
Price: How To Monetize
As the common saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.” Based on what I’m seeing, 5G will enable marketers to offer their customers baseline premium and exclusive experiences for AR and VR, or to offer a “try before you buy” scenario.
Custom clothing can be made to exact specifications via a VR session that takes a customer’s specific measurements, while another VR session shows what the custom outfit looks like with accessories and shoes once completed. Custom-made clothing could even end up being cheaper than mass retail in the future, with the advent of AR, VR and 3D printing, which could also be better for the planet.
Upload and download speeds in a 5G world come in superior megabytes of speed, making these types of exclusive experiences a reality. Therefore, it’s time to change one-size-fits-all pricing models that don’t differentiate value. Instead, you can offer consumers a new proposition to pay for individualized experiences and plans, especially when considered from the viewpoint of a retailer or event promoter.
This new “G” enables pricing to become individually tailored for whatever the customer decides is the right experience for them at the right time. I believe the subscription pricing model will come under a lot of pressure, and eventually fall by the wayside, as the world moves toward a consumption-based economy where connectivity is the driver.
Promotion: Make It Meaningful
5G is “shiny” and “new” and offers marketers a catalyst to inject new energy into their brands, but it’s not enough to stand alone and grab customers’ attention. Promotions still have to resonate with your target audience. Today’s hyper-connected world makes it imperative to deliver an ad experience that doesn’t “feel” like advertising.
With 5G, marketers can focus efforts on getting real-time customer feedback in response to advertising, and then adjust the customer experience with that ad or promotion in real-time. For example, this could incorporate a new level of gamification, where customers become immersed in a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience that will help marketers learn more about buying preferences and customer behavior.
5G opens a world of new opportunities for marketers and brands unafraid to scrap their old playbooks and buck the status quo to grow customer engagement and brand loyalty. After all, nothing ventured is nothing gained.
NOTE: This post was adapted from an article that appeared in Forbes, 11 May 2020.