Trone Research and Consulting
Category: Retail

The Untapped Fiber Customer: Confusion in the Middle

Just under 80% of both mid- and fiber-tier respondents believe that their home internet service is a “basic amenity,” viewed on par with running water or electricity. From smart televisions to smart thermostats, the number of household electronics that require an internet connection is growing. Marketing fiber as a “convenience” could be deterring customers who are on the fence about upgrading.

This past March, Trone Research + Consulting surveyed a national audience of 980 respondents to better understand how current fiber-tier respondents (101+ Mbps download speeds) and mid-tier respondents (31–100 Mbps download speeds) rate their understanding, usage, frustrations and shopping behaviors related to their home internet service. This series will preview the results of our study and discuss marketing insights about mid-tier customers—your best prospects for upgrading to fiber service. 

What They Think They Bought

When respondents were asked to describe their home internet speed as either “basic,” “moderate” or “premium,” only 52% of mid-tier respondents said “moderate,” while 72% of fiber-tier respondents said “premium.” This demonstrates that confusion about home internet connections is more common among mid-tier respondents than in fiber-tier respondents.

Marketing fiber as a “premium” speed may better inform mid-tier customers that fiber is substantially faster than broadband.

But the Terms Are Confusing

Internet providers use several terms to market home internet plans and packages, but do customers really understand what they mean? Our study found that terms like “bundle” and “Wi-Fi hotspot access” were clearly defined to more than two-thirds of both mid- and fiber-tier respondents, but more descriptive terms like “fiber,” “gigabit” and “megabit” were only understood by around 62% of mid-tier and fiber-tier respondents.

What Gigabit means

When asked what the terms “megabit” and “gigabit” mean, the responses were very similar between both groups. The chart above shows the most frequent words used by each. Surprisingly “megabit” is more associated with speed than “gigabit,” which has associations with “storage” and “data.” This key difference could stem from customer familiarity to similar-sounding data storage terms such as “megabyte” and “gigabyte.” Keen attention should be paid to audience awareness, and ideally, “gigabit” should be linked to definitions that speak to the speed and reliability over “megabit” in any marketing materials.

Know Your Audience

Overall, mid- and fiber-tier respondents to the survey share similar levels of understanding of their home internet. Where the two groups diverge most in this area is on how they describe their speed. Mid-tier respondents are split on describing their connection as “moderate” or “premium,” while fiber-tier respondents seem to know, for the most part, what they’re getting.

The next blog post in this series will examine how mid- and fiber-tier respondents most frequently use their home internet connection.

Before Your Next Promotion

  • Do you know the difference between your mid-tier and fiber-tier customers?
  • Do you have a separate marketing strategy for upgrading mid-tier customers to fiber?
  • What industry terms are being used in your residential marketing efforts that might be causing confusion?
Scott Layne

Scott Layne

President

Scott is a senior research practitioner with more than 25 years of experience with Top 50 market research firms such as Bellomy Research and M/A/R/C Research.

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He is a poised and respected industry leader with a proven track record of solving business problems for Fortune 500 companies. Scott’s extensive research experience spans consumer products and services in B2C and B2B industries, including telecom, utility, CPG, automotive, financial services, travel and leisure, retail, textile/apparel and pharmaceutical.

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Kimberly Ness

SVP, Insights & Marketing

With 25+ years of experience across research, branding and marketing, Kimberly has the unique ability to transform complicated data into a simple strategic plan that achieves results.

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She has led marketing efforts for global and national brands and has a specialty in animal health, working with brands like Zoetis, Boeringer Ingelheim and Mars Petcare. She is known as an industry thought leader and has been a featured speaker at Global Pet Expo, AAHA, CBI, Brakke Consulting and Fetch, a dvm360 conference.

Tom Minsel

Tom Minsel

PhD, Head of Research & Data Science

Tom is our PhD Statistician and master data miner with 25+ years in direct marketing, customer targeting, modeling and research design.

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His areas of expertise include statistics, applied and theoretical measurement, psychological research, survey research, summative and formative evaluation, SAS, sampling, trend analysis and generally all things analytics. Tom oversees more than 65 comprehensive studies each year to help clients better understand their customers.