To Switch or Not to Switch, That is the Question

To Switch or Not to Switch, That is the Question

Today’s consumers have a wealth of options at their fingertips when it comes to technology. Yet many products, such as televisions and mobile phones, would be little more than pricey paperweights without the services they need to operate fully.  

Choice is everywhere, and the challenge for providers is identifying what appeals to customers most when it comes to enticing them to switch companies. And as technology, media and entertainment options diversify, providers are steadily adjusting their offers to entice and keep consumers as customers—and that means identifying which incentive will make them switch.

Is it better contract terms or maybe no contract at all? Perhaps it’s an agreement to waive all fees. Or maybe it’s a combination that includes limited-time promotions that introduce a sense of urgency for something that won’t be available next week.

With so many seemingly attractive reasons to switch—or stay—it’s interesting to learn that very few are actually having an effect, according to Nielsen’s Technology Sentiment report. The recent report is based on feedback from Nielsen’s annual Technology Behavior Track survey, which polled U.S. consumers to gain a sense of their preferences and behaviors pertaining to home technology use.

Only one in 10 (9%) respondents said they switched their television and Internet providers in the past six months. Even fewer people said they’d switched their mobile phone providers (7%). Each of the three provider service areas is dominated by a small group of companies, and most of the switching over the past half a year has been between them.

So when consumers do make a change, what drives them to do it?


As with most things in life, cost is the dominant reason consumers opted to switch across TV, Internet and mobile services. In fact, nothing appeals to consumers like a good financial deal, and the better price wins every time, regardless of device or service.

The better price was the clear winner when it came to making the switch across TV, Internet and mobile phone. However, it was most important for mobile phone services, as 44 percent of consumers saying they switched for a better-priced plan. For TV and Internet service, a lower price was still an effective carrot, but less effective than for mobile service, with 35 and 31 percent of consumers, respectively, claiming they switched because of lower costs.

Life choices are strong motivators as well. Many TV and Internet switchers say they made a change because they moved. When it comes to mobile service, coverage area is the second-strongest motivator for switching. And given the amount of time spent on the digital highways today, nothing beats faster Internet speeds, another big driver of change.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Technology Sentiment report.


Nielsen Technology Behavior Track is a survey conducted annually, collecting consumer-level data on behaviors related to home technology use. Approximately 32,000 respondents, sampled to be nationally representative, participate.