Rogers confirmed plans last week to launch a Chatr, a new budget wireless brand to complement their existing Rogers Wireless and Fido offerings. Rogers executive vice-president and chief of marketing, John Boynton, spoke to The Globe and Mail about it - and his expectation that BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. will follow their lead.
When did you start on the new brand?
A year ago. A long, long time ago.
This would lend credence to the analysts' views that this was pro-active, rather than a reactive, move?
Yeah. We were tracking what was going on in the U.S., with (budget cellphone providers) MetroPCS and Leap, knowing that if there's a trend happening in the U.S., chances are there will be a growing need and trend migrating to the Canadian marketplace, as well.
It wasn't exactly a secret that Canada's new entrants were modelling themselves on the ones that launched south of the border.
They're not the only ones that look at customer needs.
How do you envision this service, are you modelling this on an unlimited talk-and-text model?
Absolutely. It was hard to see the need, back a year ago, with Canadians. [But]as we looked at some of the customers that left Roger to go to [new entrants] and it was a smaller number than we ever imagined it to be, but we still called them: Why would they leave us?
And what were they saying?
They all said exactly the same thing: You get what you pay for. And people want this kind of product, they want this kind of service, but they want it to work.
Are you going after the same type of customers as the new entrants, here - the recent immigrants and low-income Canadians?
This particular brand is going after the basic user, very simple needs, above average usage to heavy usage, doesn't need a lot of servicing, understands the product, is an experienced wireless user. This is not a newbie like the Fido brand attracts. But what we're going to tell customers is that the darn thing works.
Do you expect a reaction from the other big players, Bell and Telus, who may also have new discount brands up their sleeves?
You see how often the other guys copy us. I fully expect in this area, that those who are brands in this space will try and copy us.
This interview has been condensed and edited.