Olivier Crucq, who leads marketing at Proximus’ residential division, discusses millennials, Belgium’s two distinct cultures and fibre.

Eurocomms.com: Proximus teamed up with Vice TV in June to help it attract millennials. How important is it to partner with such brands to reach this demographic?

Olivier Crucq: It is of high importance. The millennial generation is very heterogeneous and hard to put in boxes: they are not all budget seekers (rather the opposite) not all mobile or digital “only”, not all geeks.

The below characteristics are applicable to the entire generation, though:

  • They are ALWAYS ON: digital natives, constantly in touch with each other, smartphone-centric. They have a social media primacy and a “right here, right now” attitude. Their ‘online’ and ‘real life’ are highly inter-connected, though.
  • They are ME-CENTRIC: They are strongly focused on the development of their own identity. They see the advantages of the shared economy. However, they search for deals that make it better for all (returning the favour policy) and expect brands to open up and show willingness to work together (co-creation).
  • They are CONSCIOUS POSITIVE REALISTS: They realise that luxury prosperity is not obvious, driven by instabilities like 9/11 and the economy. They have a positive, realistic attitude (“yes we can”). However, they see a concrete role for themselves to realise a better future. In this context, they expect brands to bring open, honest & authentic communication and pursue a higher social purpose.
  • They adhere to a SMART VISUAL CULTURE: Having grown up in a world full of screens and visual marketing, they are fans of visual media, but the use of these must be smart, creative and surprising to grab their attention.

Being globally quite sceptical against brands and marketing techniques, they expect OTT-like experiences in all their digital interactions, raising the bar for traditional telcos. 

So gaining traction in that generation of customers is more than launching a new offer. 

It is key not only for short-term commercial reasons (rejuvenating park of customer), it is also an opportunity to redesign customer interactions to new standards.

As well as the challenges associated with targeting millennials, Belgium includes two distinct cultures: Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. How does this impact your marketing activities?

Belgium is indeed a complex market with two distinct cultures. 

But it is not only the cultures that are different, we also operate in different competitive contexts, with a mix of leader/challenger positions according to region and different types of local and international competitors. 

In that context, Proximus keeps on growing thanks to a dual brand convergent strategy and transformation into a digital service provider with a high focus on customer experience. 

Operating in the complex environment described above forces us to de-average marketing investment and translate national strategy into more granular tactics according to zones.

This makes the job of marketer at Proximus quite complex but also very rich and exciting!

Proximus is investing €3 billion in deploying FTTH over the next decade – how do you plan to market these services to consumers?

Optical fibre is the technology which will allow our customers to make the most of the opportunities of the digital age, thanks to upload and download speeds of a kind never seen before in Belgium. 

What we put forward is really the experience more than the technology, so the fact that customer can surf, stream and game at lightning speed. 

In other words, everyone at home surfs faster than ever with the clearest image on every screen and without the least interruption even when everyone in the home is surfing at the same time. 

We don’t create a specific portfolio for fibre, eligible people can enjoy its benefits on our Tuttimus portfolio ‘boosted’ at 250Mbps. 

And for those who want even more, we also offer a speed add-on option (350MBps down/50MBps Up) on fibre, priced at €10.

Looking ahead to 2018, what are your main priorities?

Amongst other things we believe in content as a way to connect and engage with consumers.

We pursue our strategy as a content aggregator offering the best of international OTT services (eg, Netflix) and local content on any screen. 

Of course, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty resulting in lower churn also remains a key objective. 

We will also further exploit our dual brand strategy using [low-cost mobile brand] Scarlet as acquisition engine in budget seekers and smart shopper segments.

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