Vodafone has always been known for its innovative marketing and Ronita Mitra, Senior Vice President, Brand and Consumer Insights, Vodafone India says that with every telecom circle having its own set of business priorities according to the local market, the relevance for the brand in circles such as the HSM is built through product & price innovation and providing unique value propositions to customers each month
By Simran Sabherwal
Think Brand Vodafone – and the adorable pug and ZooZoos come to mind. The success of the brand’s advertising campaigns is exemplary, that too without the help of a celebrity; instead they made stars of the ZooZoos and the pug became India’s favourite dog. Vodafone commenced its Indian operations in 1994, when its predecessor Hutchison India acquired the cellular licence for Mumbai. Since then, it’s been a seamless transition from Orange to Hutch to Vodafone and the brand today has over 170 million customers in the highly competitive and price-sensitive Indian market, establishing Vodafone India as a strong player within Vodafone Group with the largest subscriber base globally. One thing which the brand has stayed true to is its simple advertisements. Ronita Mitra, Senior Vice President, Brand and Consumer Insights, Vodafone India comments that it all starts and ends with the customer and the core marketing strategy is to hold the customer at the heart of any campaign and communication. She says, “We created some memorable icons (pug-boy, Happy to Help, ZooZoo, etc) to communicate in the simplest yet innovative manner to our consumers. The brand’s DNA is to keep the communication simple. Our communication is designed around the three brand pillars: unmatched customer experience, worry free solutions and always confidently connected.”
Connecting With Customers
With the customer being the centre of attention, the brand’s core strategy is based on enhancing value for customers and striving to provide them innovative, affordable and user-friendly communication solutions. Mitra says that Vodafone delivers its promise of ‘Power to you’ by empowering people to stay connected at all times, everywhere. To get across this message, the telecom major follows a 360-degree media approach for any of its campaigns because different mediums have different roles to play. Elaborates Mitra, “The media mix depends on the objective of the marketing campaign. It takes four factors into consideration - reach analysis, media affinity study of the TG, media consumption pattern and finally media cost.” So typically while Television plays the role of creating awareness and emotional affinity, Outdoors gets a spike in awareness while Radio helps in creating buzz and frequency. Also, Digital plays a very important role to connect with the increasing number of digitally savvy consumers. As for Print, Mitra says, “The role of Print media is dependent upon the nature and task of the campaign. It can build awareness, educate customers or do both.” For example, in case of the latest campaign, Vodafone RED, Print has been used to explain and detail the various features.
Targeting North India
Focusing on the regional play, North India is a key market for Vodafone which contributes around 30-35% of its customer base and revenues. Commenting on a North Indian customer and the importance of the area, Mitra says, “A typical North Indian customer demands better value for money and superior customer service. We currently have the largest footprint of our Vodafone stores & Vodafone Mini Stores in North– reaching into the heartland of rural northern India.” On targeting this hard-to-please customer, Mitra adds, “The expansion of this footprint on reach is two-fold – offline and online advertising. While TV has an overall reach for all India, we focus heavily on Print, Radio, local cinemas and on-ground activation through malls, market-places, congregation points like Railways, airports to bring alive the proposition and convey the advertising message.” Even digitally, Delhi is a key market to target for online and social advertising and contributes almost 20% to the total website sessions on www.vodafone.in, the highest across cities nationally.
Talking about the Hindi-speaking Market (HSM), a large part of which is also media dark, Mitra says, “Every telecom circle has its own set of business priorities according to the local market forces, competition, leadership status, etc. The relevance for the brand in these circles is built through product and price innovation and providing unique value proposition to our customers each month. The approach is highly focused on a combination of retailer push and customer education (especially on data) leading to pull in rural States.” Vodafone runs a large scale retailer programme in rural markets in the North that incentivizes retailers on activating the best deals on its IVR 121. Vodafone’s trade satisfaction studies have shown that there is direct correlation between a happy retailer and performance for brand Vodafone.
Vodafone also connects with consumers in HSM markets through local initiatives held during festivals like Chhath Puja and Shravan Mela in Bihar and Jharkhand, or Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh, to help build brand affinity in these circles. These also aid as a platform for building brand engagement. One of Vodafone’s rural activation programmes “Vodafone Ki Dhoom” works with the objective of popularizing 121 (prepaid best deal IVR) and 123 (IVR with bouquet of VAS) among its rural base, which provides an opportunity to connect with the youth segment – and introduce mobile Internet early to these future customers. The telecom major also has partnership with all leading Smartphone brands for joint go-to-market programmes. All of these are publicized through local and vernacular media.
Upping the Game
Though Voice is still the biggest revenue earner for Vodafone, consumer focus on VAS is increasingly shifting to utility and need-based services that have an inherent pull factor, over a push-based approach. Also, with the increasing penetration of Smartphones even in rural areas, consumer needs have moved to content consumption – with a high degree of affinity towards music, videos and sports-based content. Explains Mitra, “Vodafone has existing products that effectively address each of these customer needs. Vodafone Music, one of our content-based value-added products, provides a platform to listen, watch, and download over five lakh songs. Vodafone brings in reach for the utility-based VAS products, with mAgriculture, mEducation and mHealth taking these services to the rural customer’s doorstep.”