Consumer Cellular hooks up seniors

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013
0713 Tactics 02
// Photo courtesy Consumer Cellular

Another milestone occurred in 2010-11, when Consumer Cellular finalized partnerships with Sears and RadioShack, gaining access to the retail market. And this past August, the company opened a call center in Redmond that employs more than 200 people. About 300 people work at another call center in Phoenix.

About that smartphone push: The (smartphone) name itself is a bit of an obstacle for a company targeting a certain kind of Luddite, Marick admits. But Consumer Cellular is pressing ahead, selling phones stripped of apps along with plans emphasizing affordability and flexibility. “We treat it as a regular phone,” says Marick. “You want our $2.50-per-month data plan, you get it.”

The strategy appears to be working. Last year Consumer Cellular sold only a few smartphones. But during a single week this past May, smartphone sales accounted for 32% of phones shipped from the company warehouse. Consumer Cellular has sold an entry-level smartphone for a couple of years, but this past spring they released two more: the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate and the LG 930. “Those have really taken off,” Marick says.

Targeted advertising is helping spread the message. Consumer Cellular’s (exclusively) national marketing campaigns target publications and cable television networks favored by retirees, including TV Land and the Game Show Network. Those retirees, whose numbers are on the rise, are helping fuel the company’s 30% annual growth rate. Marick also credits the company’s award-winning customer service — Consumer Cellular has been ranked the No. 1 wireless carrier in a Consumer Reports survey for the past three years — and a prudent approach to financing. “We’re privately held; we have no long-term debt, and our focus is reinvesting everything back in the business.”

The company’s corporate culture is equally close to the vest. The management team vacations together, the CIO and head of equipment and distribution have been with Consumer Cellular for about 17 years, and much of the strategic planning takes place on a “back deck with beer,” Marick says. “You see a lot of startup groups like that, not companies that are 18 years old. Even as we’ve gotten quite large, we still think of ourselves as a small business.”

Of course, balancing, and synthesizing, opposites is standard practice for a company that sells technology to the tech-averse and targets a niche market that, increasingly, is no longer niche. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re going after seniors, so all your customers must be in Florida, Palm Springs,’” says Marick. “But lo and behold: There are seniors everywhere.”



 

More Articles

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


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