How should telecom brands market eSIMs?

September 6th, 2023 | Comperemedia News

eSIM technology is rapidly replacing the role of physical SIM cards when it comes to installing a cellular plan in a new device. Apple fully committed to eSIMs in the creation of iPhone 14, since the device is only compatible with eSIMs over physical SIM cards. 

Although there is an industry shift towards eSIMs, marketing for the technology has been scarce among US and Canadian telecom providers. Consumer Cellular approached the topic through an educational lens by informing consumers of what makes eSIMs unique via email. With eSIM technology becoming more widely favored by top device manufacturers, telecom providers must incorporate eSIM communication into their marketing to familiarize consumers with the technology and its advantages. 

Source: Comperemedia ePerformance/eDatasource [8/1/22-8/31/22] as of 8/28/2023

In this blog, we examine three ways in which eSIMs will impact consumer travel and beyond and provide recommendations for telecom brands as they strategize ways to market this new technology.

1. Cost-effective travel solutions

Travel recovery can drive increased eSIM usage by providing travelers with more freedom and convenience. More importantly, these prepaid plans let travelers access their data and calls without having to worry about high roaming charges. In June, a Mintel analyst traveled to Japan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China for a family vacation. When she discovered the very expensive roaming rate from her current carrier, the analyst turned to Airalo, a digital eSIM provider that offers roaming plans at a much lower price

The ability of eSIMs to allow consumers to efficiently switch providers based on the best network and rate while traveling is a key area for marketers to focus on. Travelers no longer have to deal with the hassle of changing out their SIM cards every time they cross a border. Prior to busy travel periods (e.g. summer), providers can exemplify to consumers the flexibility of eSIMs that will lead to simple ease of use when abroad.

Source: Airalo

2. Lead with learnings

For consumers to understand why eSIMs are advantageous, brands must explain how the technology compares to SIM cards. If eSIM technology is on the way to becoming standard in smartphones, the more consumers know about it will increase the appeal factor when considering an upgrade. Simple graphics comparing the capabilities of SIM cards to eSIMs in digital channels would allow consumers to grasp the difference between the two and imagine why the newer technology is beneficial, either for travel or cost-cutting measures such as enabling one device to power two phone numbers. In an educational approach, providers should keep it simple and inform customers that Installation is easy to navigate and users can simply remove the eSIM in “Cellular” if they want to stop using it.

3. A plethora of freebies

As noted in a recent Comperemedia report, Prepaid Wireless in 2023: US and Canada (client-link only), brands can present eSIMs as a way to trial a network’s service before committing  to a new plan. With the consumers typically hesitant to move networks due to the hurdles of switching, offering a streamlined way to test out a network is key. Providers can add an eSIMs trial to a list of compelling reasons, including competitive pricing or improved network quality, as a worthwhile feature to switch. Communications on eSIMs should keep convenience and simple ease of use central to remove the burden of setting up a cellular plan for a limited-time trial. For consumers still hesitant, referral programs could provide some legitimacy and testimonials to the usability of eSIMs at a heavily discounted price. New technology will likely be adopted more efficiently through word of mouth.

What we think

Marketers have the opportunity to further consumer understanding of eSIMs by providing suggestions of when the technology can improve efficiency and provide a newconnection at a lower cost. With travel as a key area for eSIM promotion, brands can suggest the technology as a tool to simplify any adventures abroad. If brands want to capitalize on eSIMs as a reason to switch, education on the ease of use in a trial period will be key. 

Bella Broccolo is an Associate Research Analyst with Comperemedia, specializing in omni-channel marketing trends.
Vivian is a Research Analyst with Comperemedia based in Toronto, covering Financial Services, Telecom, and Insurance sectors.