LG U+ is enjoying eye-catching success in the 5G space, but it’s not just about coverage, technical prowess and network performance – it’s also about engaging consumers with hyper-personalized 5G-powered services that make a real difference in their daily lives.
Hard as it may be to believe, it’s been three years now since South Korean operators launched the world’s first 5G services. At the time it seemed like they’d jumped the gun launching a service with few handsets and no obvious advantages over 5G. Three years later, South Korean operators have reaped all the first-mover advantages any CEO could hope for – and perhaps none more than LG U+, which has become a proof-of-concept for 5G monetization above and beyond the usual data packages.
By just about any standard metric, LG U+ is leading the 5G field in Korea and elsewhere. According to the latest figures from IHS Markit (1H 2021), LG U+ is providing the fastest 5G median download speeds in Seoul and Incheon, both above 640 Mbps, giving thanks to the adoption of Huawei’s 5G M-MIMO solution, despite having only 80 MHz of 5G spectrum (compared to rivals KT and SK Telecom, who have 100 MHz each). It’s also the only 5G operator registering latencies below 30 ms in four major cities: Seoul, Incheon, Busan and Gwangju (where LG U+ is achieving its fastest latency at 22 ms).
Perhaps more importantly, LG U+ boasts the highest 5G availability in Seoul at over 95%, which also makes Seoul the city with the highest 5G availability anywhere on Earth (for reference: New York City is no.2 at 74.1%, says IHS). Moreover, LG U+ reports a minimum of 80.2% 5G availability in other major cities in South Korea, including Busan, Gwangju and Incheon. This is a crucial metric for 5G success because previous research has already shown that poor or insufficient 5G coverage is a barrier to consumer uptake. After all, there’s little point in paying for a 5G service if you’re going to drop down to 4G more often than not.
The thing is, cashing in on 5G isn’t just about faster speeds and lower latencies, but the new types of services those capabilities enable.
LG U+ has already built a reputation of banking on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as key service offerings for 5G customers. By establishing content partnerships and bundling the services into its 5G packages, LG U+ presented consumers with AR/VR services ranging from musicals and offsite education to K-pop concerts and art exhibitions (or, in the case of its recently launched XR Gallery, both at once).
Such 5G apps and services are already driving LG U+’s bottom line. In Q1 this year, LG U+ grew its 5G customer base to 3.34 million customers. That’s 19.6% of its customer base, contributing to a 5.4% increase in wireless service revenues. Based on the current rate of net adds, the operator projects its 5G customer base to account for 40% of total customers by the end of this year.
Purpose-driven 5G marketing
But even the innovative services themselves aren’t the whole story of LG U+’s 5G success. Again, it’s not about the technological wizardry behind these services, but what you do with them – and, just as importantly, how you do it. Think of it this way: 5G isn’t just a network – it’s a system that can leverage ultrafast radios, edge computing, the cloud, IoT and big data to create solutions that deliver the right information at the right time to the right people and thus provide real-time value to their daily lives.
This is really a fancy way of saying that the real value of 5G is the ability to build services that take the customer experience and customer engagement to all-new levels.
Take for example LG U+’s 5G child fingerprinting campaign – a safety app that leverages 5G and AI to help locate a missing child. Mobile child-tracking services have existed for some time, but pinpointing the child’s location can take up to 56 hours. The LG U+ service can locate the child in 52 minutes.
It’s an example of what Sara Kim, senior marketing VP at LG U+, describes as purpose-driven marketing, the object of which is to build the brand by engaging more proactively with customers via hyper-personalized services that provide real value.
“Our consumers value brands that have a clear rationale of the impact they want to create,” she recently told CNBC.
In other words, the 5G success is powered by a strong and ubiquitous network to deliver excellent user experience, together with the empathy with customers to understand what content they value most, and let that inform your service creation strategy.