Consumer Cellular, an MVNO that targets the 50 and older demographic, says it has expanded its partnership with Target, taking over space previously occupied by Verizon Wireless in nearly 1,500 store locations.
The expansion is already complete in 700 Target locations and will be rolled out to an additional 750+ stores this October.
Consumer Cellular has been an approved AARP provider for over 10 years and offers AARP members special discounts on service. As an MVNO, it uses the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile.
A Verizon spokesperson confirmed its postpaid service is leaving Target locations. “Verizon continuously evaluates our strategies to serve customers through our own channels, available at verizonwireless.com/stores, and relationships with retailers. At this time, we have elected to allow our postpaid services distribution with Target to expire,” the company said in a statement. “We wish them continued success.”
A Target representative shared the following statement with Fierce: "Target remains committed to offering guests the ease and convenience of mobile devices and service through AT&T and Consumer Cellular, as well as our pre-paid offerings with Cricket Wireless, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, Tracfone, Verizon Pre-paid, and AT&T pre-paid."
According to Consumer Cellular, its new location within Target’s electronics department not only gives Consumer Cellular a more prominent and visual location, but in some cases, more than doubles its current footprint within the stores.
“Target has been a fantastic partner for Consumer Cellular and for our almost four million customers over the past seven years,” said Consumer Cellular CEO John Marick in a statement. “The partnership has allowed us to not only sell our products and services, but also has provided the opportunity to send our customers directly to Target locations when they need in-person support. Our combined success has enabled us to move into the space previously occupied by Verizon Wireless. The expanded footprint and more prominent visibility allows us to better showcase our products and services to our valued customers and Target’s guests.”
Marick also explained in a statement provided to Fierce that one temporary change is that in just over 300 stores, Consumer Cellular phones, which were previously activated by MarketSource employees, will temporarily be sold to consumers who will then activate them at home via Consumer Cellular’s contact centers or website. Starting in September, direct Target associates will once again activate the phones in stores for customers so their new handset is working when they walk out of the store.
Consumer Cellular has been actively participating and assisting in the training of those Target store reps. “This internal shift in no way affects the availability of Consumer Cellular products within Target stores,” he said.
Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, which noted changes in Target stores in an earlier report on prepaid competition, said he has often held up Consumer Cellular as a poster child for both MVNO success and for successful segmentation.
However, “any way you stack it, it’s negative that Consumer Cellular phones will not be activated at just over 300 stores for a couple of months,” he said.
Story updated to include comment from Target.