What do I need to know?
- Spain has a small population aged 15-24 and the highest level of youth unemployment in the EU
- Each operator has a different strategy for attracting younger users, from Orange’s kids-only add-on plan to Movistar’s Tuenti sub-brand
- Vodafone’s Yu plans feature the highest data allowances among youth-focused plans, but also the highest prices
- Certain plans allow users to roll over unused data, including those from Vodafone and MVNOs Pepephone and Digi
People aged 15-24 constitute the smallest demographic in Spain, at just 9.9% of the total population. A high youth unemployment rate of 39.9%, the highest in the European Union, helps keep this demographic small, because it drives young people to migrate outside of Spain in search for work. In addition, a poor economy resulting from the 2008 financial crisis still drives Spaniards to defer having children of their own.
Meanwhile, smartphone penetration stands at 74.3%, behind just the UK, Germany and France, respectively, among large Western European markets. Almost 90% of the population accesses the internet primarily through their smartphone, and around one-quarter of the population has only a mobile phone and no fixed broadband at home – trends that are even more pronounced among younger users. Operators are eager to attract these users with discounted plans featuring generous data allowances.
What are operators offering?
Spanish incumbent Telefonica doesn’t offer any youth-focused plans under its main Movistar brand, but it addresses that market segment through its sub-brand Tuenti. Tuenti began as a social network before being bought by Telefonica. Telefonica then repurposed Tuenti as its youth brand, and its social networking origins have continued to influence the brand’s offering. Telefonica keeps Tuenti’s brand identity separate from Movistar’s, with very few mentions on the main brand’s website.
|Monthly Price (EUR)||5.95||9.95||13.95|
Movistar’s plans come at relatively low price-points, but come with notable trade-offs. For example, voice calls for the lowest tier come at no cost per minute for the first thirty minutes, but the operator charges a EUR0.20 connection fee, and after the initial 30 minutes, the rate rises to EUR0.06 per minute. Texts cost just under EUR0.10 per message across all three tiers, though use of messaging apps and Wi-Fi offloading likely lessens the blow. Overall, Tuenti’s data allowances are low compared with its competitors’ youth plans, specifically that of Vodafone, but the trade-off is that its monthly prices are lower.
Orange’s only youth-focused offering is the Kids add-on plan, which is aimed at parents who want to keep an eye on their children’s mobile use. Consumers can only buy the plan if they are already on one of Orange’sLove or Go plans, or if they take out one of these plans as a new customer. Calls within the family are unlimited, while calls outside the family charge a connection fee of EUR0.30, but there is no per-minute charge.
|Voice||Unlimited to family members, EUR0.30 connection charge for others|
|SMS||EUR0.25 per message|
|Monthly Price (EUR)||8.95|
The other main feature of the Kids plan is Kids Ready, a service that allows parents to supervise their kids’ web surfing and monitor where they are through geolocation. By using the mi Orange app, parents can check what sites their kids are viewing, block inappropriate apps and websites, and set schedules when the kids can use certain apps. The geolocation function shows the mobile phone’s location, routes taken and whether the phone has entered or left a defined area, and includes a help button for emergencies.
Vodafone’s strategy is similar to Telefonica’s, in that it offers its youth-focused plans via a sub-brand, Vodafone Yu. However, unlike Tuenti, the Yu plans are visible on the Vodafone site and are explicitly aimed at the youth market. By allying the Yu sub-brand with the main brand, Vodafone can also bundle its Yu mobile plans with fiber broadband plans aimed at students, providing a further opportunity to upsell mobile customers.
|Plan||Big Yuser||Heavy Yuser|
|Monthly Price (EUR)||15||20|
Similar to Vodafone youth-focused plans in other countries, Yu offers zero-rated chat and messaging apps, meaning they don’t count toward the monthly data allowance. The usual array of social media apps is accounted for, but the Yu plans’s zero-rating also includes dating and hookup apps, such as Tinder, Grindr and the local, women-focused app AdoptaUnTío.
Compared side by side, Vodafone’s plans are the most expensive, but in return, also come with the highest data allowances, by a wide margin. Making them even more generous is Vodafone’s policy of zero-rating chat and messaging apps, and of rolling over unused data for up to three months. Orange’s Kids plan comes off worst in a straight comparison because of its low data allowance and high price per GB. However, it’s worth noting that the Tuenti and Vodafone Yu plans are aimed at young users who buy their own mobile plans, while Orange’s Kids plan is aimed at parents who want to keep an eye on their kids’ mobile use, and therefore may not care as much about the small data allowance.
Included for comparison are the smallest and largest plans from Yoigo, the fourth-placed operator in terms of subscribers. Owing to its position in the market, Yoigo has frequently positioned itself for value-conscious consumers, which typically includes younger users. However, in this case, its plans don’t really hold up against its rivals’ youth-focused plans. For example, its lowest tier offers far less data than its competitors, but at an uncompetitive price. Its highest tier, on the other hand, compares favorably with Vodafone’s, especially given that La Sinfín Doble’s data allowance is intended to be shared between two users.
|Smallest tier plans||Tuenti 3GB||Orange Kids||Vodafone Big Yuser||Yoigo La Sinfín|
|Largest tier plans||Tuenti 14GB||Orange Kids||Vodafone Heavy Yuser||Yoigo La Sinfín Doble 60GB|
Like in other European countries, Spain has a number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that are cost-effective alternatives for younger users, even if they aren’t aimed specifically at that group. For example, Pepephone’s plans start at EUR7.90 per month for 5GB of data, with unused data rolling over to the following month; Digi’s plans start at EUR7 per month for the same amount of data, plus rollover. Both also offer deals for consumers who subscribe to the companies’ other services, whether electricity in the case of Pepephone or fiber internet in the case of Digi.