Yadda, Yadda: Verizon's Value Brands Navigate a Sea of Sameness

The mobile market is cluttered…even within a giant provider like Verizon. That company’s portfolio of value-oriented products includes Total by Verizon, Visible, TracFone, Simple Mobile, SafeLink, Walmart Family Mobile, Straight Talk and Verizon Prepaid, among others. And so when we sat down with Verizon Value President Angie Klein, the main topics had to be brand differentiation and building in a saturated market. You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.

MediaPost: With so many mobile brands all powered by Verizon, what is the overall strategy is for such a portfolio?

Angie Klein: I think it really correlates to the diverse customer population that's out there. And when we look at the value portfolio, the diversity of economic needs, of shopping behaviors, of where customers want to buy, and also the device lineups that they buy are quite different than the post-paid that ends up being kind of centered in a few key device areas. And there's a lot more diversity of choice in the market, in a prepaid category. We're really uniquely serving different segments with each brand. That is our intent.



We want to get even more honed on that as we go, because we acquired TracFone, it'll be nearly two years next month. They had nine brands, and then Verizon, of course, has Visible and Verizon Prepaid, that we brought into this larger portfolio. Straight Talk is our largest, it's a Walmart exclusive. Walmart shoppers love a good value. Walmart's philosophy of save money, live better leans into that brand. We have a robust device line up and offers and also value props. We recently launched multi line plans or family plans, which wasn't a big part of that space. We now include Walmart+ as a feature in some of our plans in Straight Talk. So that's one brand that's our largest. 

It's a lot about where it's sold and who it sold to. Total by Verizon we launched a little over a year ago. We're primarily distributed with 54,000 national retail locations but we're building up an exclusive store footprint. We'll have a couple of thousand stores over time that really, you're in the local communities. That middle market is an interesting emerging part of the mobile space. You've got the MSOs playing there, Metro and Cricket, and this is really the Verizon take on Metro and Cricket. More full service, more aggressive mid-market offers and more robust lineups of plans and service features.

MP: For example, let’s distinguish between Total and Visible. They're both value oriented, but they come at the consumer from somewhat different experiences and perspectives?

Klein: Actually, quite different. I look at Visible as like kind of our millennial, Gen Z brand, your digital natives. It is 100% online. We don't have stores or call centers. We have chat. It's someone that's probably far more technically astute and wants to just have everything to be quite simple in the app, able to manage it, like I don't need full-service bells and whistles and experiences. We keep it quite simple intentionally. It is focused on single line accounts only. We strip everything out; make it quite simple. Most customers, probably 80%, bring their own device. I've really thought that was such a sweet spot in the market that no one else was really playing in to win. That's what that brand is going to own. 

Total, on the other hand, is more of an urban, suburban, very hardworking families. So, it's as much focused on the family segment. A little bit more full service, and we offer more of a robust device line up and device promotions that go along with those price plans. So that all correlates into the value prop, that's a little bit different.

MP: So, how does this translate into very different marketing tactics? 

Klein: So, because they are going after different segments, and really, their value prop is a little bit different, when we look at how we bring these to market, the messaging, and who it's for comes pretty clear in our media campaigns. You'll see the Visible marketing engine, leading into singles, whether it's Singles Awareness Day against the Valentine's Day of the families, or some of the simplicity of that brand where we've really just made it all just $25, taxes and fees included. We don't have added fees, we don't have a lot of mumbo jumbo. You probably saw one of our competitors come out with the Yada Yada campaign. And we thought, man, that's chock full of BS promise. Visible sits in this unique spot where we can really be a challenger brand to a lot of what's traditional in the industry, and we lean into that for our marketing. We, of course, use a lot of influencers with that brand because it is the target segment, a little bit more digital media, etc. 

And then Total by Verizon is a lot about leveraging Verizon as part of the Verizon family. Visible gets the attribution more for the network as a digital brand. We wanted to make sure that people knew that wasn't a fly by night brand. It's powered by Verizon. But Total by Verizon is more part of the ecosystem of the Verizon family, and to me that marketing is a lot different. It's more about the families. And there's people that are making decisions in their wallets every single day to make the best use of their money. And that brand is really about that, helping working families out. And that'll come across in our marketing, our local presence, our local marketing, that we do. And then, of course, just the presence of our expanding footprint of stores.

MP: From marketing and messaging perspective, one of the things I noticed when I'm looking at some of your ads and competitor ads is a very high awareness of what the competition is doing and not a shyness about addressing specifically what they're doing, and offering counterpoints which in the world of advertising and marketing is still relatively rare. We don't see markets where competitors really go at each other in quite the same way. Your Jason Alexander Yada Yada campaign answered a competitor’s ad. 

Klein: So, one of our competitors, Metro, came out with this Not a Yada Yada [campaign]. We thought it was a good campaign. It was BS-free promise. We were looking at it and going, ironically, there’s so much BS in that. We have far less of that, like Visible is much, much simpler. We are very transparent and honest. There are no gotchas anywhere. There are no activation fees. There's no like, hey this plan is only available in the store, if you were born on a Tuesday, you can get this offer. We have none of that. We saw this as a chance to clap back as more of a challenger brand and take on some of the messaging that we don't think is being as transparent as they should be. Jason Alexander, who in his role as George has made Yada Yada Yada famous was a great partner to come on, and actually even worked with us on the concept in the script. And when we shot that ad really challenging what Yada Yada is? The details matter. And do you have an activation fee? Do you require a family of four to get your best price? We asked a lot of those questions just to prompt the hypocrisy of the ad, but of course Visible has none of that. And what was fun is, surprisingly in my perspective, Metro actually responded back with an open letter to Jason Alexander.

We actually did an edited version of the letter. It called out some of the hypocrisy they put even in their response to us. It's been a little bit fun for us to do that, partly because I think Visible stands so alone in being the clearest, most transparent, simplest brand, with absolutely no gotchas at all, no catches. This is one of those areas when marketing becomes quite fun in a competitive space. Having a distinct value prop where it's not a sea of sameness allows you to really go head-to-head against one of the larger players in the space. And Visible is still in its growth mode. A really great marketing campaign.

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