Consumer Cellular hooks up seniors

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER

0713 Tactics 01
// Photo of CEO John Marick by Adam Bacher

The wireless-communications industry thrives on the latest and the greatest; witness the masses who camp out in front of Apple stores every year or so anticipating the newest iPhone. Consumer Cellular, a Tigard-based wireless service and phone provider, is not one of the trendsetters.

“There are a lot of wireless companies that get really excited about the youth, business users, those early adopters,” says CEO John Marick, 48. “We’re the boring category. We target people who want cellular phones for the safety and convenience.”

Most of those people are seniors. Founded in 1995, Consumer Cellular has carved out a niche targeting older users with simple, inexpensive and no-contract cell phone plans — with basic service starting at $10 a month. The company grossed about $263 million last year, up from $44.6 million in 2007.

Almost 20 years after Marick and co-founder Greg Pryor identified a void in the marketplace — “the cell phone was a luxury item then; nobody was trying to make it affordable,” Marick observes — Consumer Cellular is growing strong yet faces a few challenges ahead. More competitors are entering the low-cost wireless space. Plus, Consumer Cellular’s target market, the over-50 set, is becoming increasingly tech savvy, “making it harder for us to get our message out,” Marick says.

To stay competitive, Consumer Cellular is setting its sights on an initiative that might seem a contradiction in terms: adapting the ultimate tech status symbol for customers who care little about tech or status. That device would be the smartphone, a product Marick says “could be our next big thing.”

Consumer Cellular
CEO: John Marick
Employees: 800
Headquarters: Tigard
Factoid: In 2012, Consumer Cellular subscribers used a total of 1,920,845,339 talk minutes

Consumer Cellular — which employs about 800 people, including Marick’s wife, Tami, and sister, Jill Leonetti (both are part of the management team) — has enjoyed its share of next big things. During its first 10 years, the company focused almost exclusively on the Oregon market. That changed in 2005, when Consumer Cellular signed an agreement with AT&T to buy and resell space on the wireless conglomerate’s network. “That’s what really made us a true national player,” Marick says.

In 2009 the company forged a partnership with another big player, the AARP, giving Consumer Cellular a direct line to the association’s 40 million members. That relationship helped grow the company’s customer count from about 30,000 in 2006 to more than 1 million today.



 

More Articles

Leading with the right brain

News
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
120914-manderson-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.


Read more...

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

Playoffs pay off for the Ducks

The Latest
Friday, January 02, 2015
oregon-ducks-logo-helmet-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The University of Oregon football team looked unstoppable on the field Jan. 1 — and the university is reaping the benefits of the new postseason format.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Raising the Stakes

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.


Read more...

Which Way to Chinatown?

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

The Jade International District, already Portland's center of Asian life, is poised for rejuvenation. Where does that leave the westside's historic Chinatown?


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS