And just to be sure there is no mistaking who they are targeting as their customers - check out their name: "PePtalk - Pep your Addiction"! Maybe it sounds like a bad practical joke - but then again - it's not April Fools day today - and there are an estimated 675.000 cannabis smokers in Holland!
Yes - it's for real! PePtalk http://www.pepyouraddiction.nl is one of the newest discount mobile service providers in Holland and their logo - the hemp plant - is even on the SIM card you get from them.
We have already seen Service Providers; start to spring up around Europe, which are targeting certain customer segments, sometimes using the success that a brand name already has built up. Examples of these are the joint venture between Tesco and O2 in the UK - Tesco Mobile that launched in September 2003 and Easyjet's planned mobile venture EasyMobile. Virgin Mobile has been around for while, but not yet achieved the financial success they had hoped for.
So getting back to "PePtalk" in Holland. What's the deal with them? In Holland cannabis is not illegal, in the sense you can buy and smoke it in the around 1000 coffee shops that sell cannabis. An estimated 675.000 people smoke cannabis in Holland. So you have a very well defined target group. Add to this a target group that would really like cannabis to continue to be readily available and legal - and now they can pass this message on by using the services of a discount mobile service provider that also appears to share these views! PePtalk do not actually seem to express any views on cannabis on their website - other than their name and logo. And although they offer many premium rate SMS services, none of them seem to have anything to do with daily cannabis prices - or where you can locate your nearest cannabis coffee shop! But maybe that is in the pipeline?
PePtalk is a sub-brand of Dutch PhoneMe http://www.phoneme.nl/ that currently also offers another sub-branded mobile service. If you have a good idea for a mobile brand in Holland that has a target group you think would be interested in using your services as part of the way they express their views - then it's time to get moving. Starting your own mobile service provider has simply never been easier - and if you get your timing, offerings and target group right - you could be well on your way to making millions of Euro - as we have already seen mobile services providers achieve in Denmark!
PePtalk is just one of the latest discount mobile service providers to emerge on the European mobile market. Marketing mobile services via sub-brands is most certainly not new - Strand Consult described in great detail how the South Korean mobile operators are using sub-brands to achieve the astonishing success they have enjoyed over the past years in our report: "The Korean Mobile Market - A window to 3G" http://www.strandreports.com/sw541.asp
Also the new business area of discount mobile telephony has just been thoroughly analyzed in Strand Consults latest comprehensive report "The Moment Of Truth - A Portrait Of The Discount Mobile Service Providers Success". This report examines the Danish mobile market, where discount mobile telephony has in a very short period of time, managed to turn the whole mobile market upside down, completely changing the competitive parameters that were until recently governing the market.
The report focuses on how the two Discount Mobile Service Providers (Telmore and CBB Mobil) have managed to acquire no less than 43.7% of all new mobile customers from 2H 2000 to 1H 2003! This is an outstanding achievement considering these two companies were both launched at the end of 2000. Add to this that around 20% of the total Danish mobile customer base is using a Discount Mobile Service Provider today and you just have to be pretty impressed.
The report also analyses the development of the end-user prices for voice and SMS messages. In the past 10 months alone the price has dropped by around 50% so a discount mobile customer can today talk on his mobile phone for just 0.091 Euro and send SMS messages galore at only 0.026 Euro pr. message.
So now we have a discount mobile service provider using the hemp plant - and cannabis lifestyle - to target their customers. So what will be next - how far will mobile companies go to attract customers? Some will already feel PePtalk have crossed the line - but they crossed the line because it was possible to start a service provider at very little cost. Others are already contemplating the same. It will be very interesting to see what sort of results PePtalk achieve in the near future - and if they are just a little bit positive - even more interesting to see what controversial means new discount mobile service providers will take to market themselves!