• Dominant player in a short span of time….
The bright side
• Penetration is very low
• Combined, the 7 circles are generating approx. 2.5 lakh new subscribers
• The consumer is already sold on the desire / need to buy into the
But there are some serious challenges ahead
• Late entrant – 5th or 6th entrant in most of our circle
• Lowering of Tariff, not an option
• Churn – industry average is around 6 -7% per month
– 8 – 9% for Pre-paid
– Real reasons still unclear
Parity, Parity, Parity…
• Almost a level playing field (from the consumers’ view point) when it
comes to technology
• Even customer service standards can be matched / bettered by committed
competitors with deep pocket.
Competing in a crowded market, as a late
entrant, with complete product, technology,
service and pricing parity…
…And still being relevant and persuasive for
Been there and done that!!
• Innovative marketing strategies considered the
domain of Large established English dailies…TOI/
• Steps in Dainik Bhaskar, a vernacular publication
group that redefined marketing in the publishing
• The Dainik Bhaskar group is the No. 1 Newspaper in the country (NRS
– TOI : 22 L
– HT : 5 L
– DB : 23 L
• Present in Rajasthan, MP, Chattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat and Haryana
Take a look at how they entered Gujarat…
The Bhaskar story
• Gujarat market was dominated by 2 players
– Sandesh (1923)
– Gujarat Samachar (1932)
– Divya Bhaskar launched in 2003
• 1st Phase: Elaborate consumer contact
– 8 lakh households in Ahmedabad, out of a total
base of 10 lakh HH
– Understand the kind of newspaper the consumers
• 2nd Phase: “Chali tumahri Marzi” prgram in 7.5
– Consumers given the feeling of ‘ownership’ in the
content development process
– Bookings taken
• Apart from the radical logistics of the marketing program
itself, Divya Bhaskar continued to break the mould in various
other ways too….
– Introduced a fresh magazine format layout
– More colour and pages to accommodate responses from the
– Outdoor was used to huge extent –literally painted the town red
– Commissioned immediate research through AC Nielson ORG Marg as
an attestation of the circulation figures, kick starting the
No. 1, from day One
• Big Bang launch
• Customized the content
• Broke the ‘we know best’ syndrome
• Adopted the magazine subscription format
Jet Airways did it!
• Till early 90’s IA had a monopoly
• PSU orientation:
– Delay in Schedules
– Ticketing problems
– Sloppy service
• 1993 : GOI opened skies for privatization
– 8 new Airlines ( Jet Airways, Sahara, Modiluft, East West,
• Today only 2 continue to function – Jet/Sahara
• Specialists gave direction to the business :
– IMRB / Anderson set up its business plan
• Hired Top officials with national and international experience
– AI, Malaysian, Singapore Airline
• Computerized reservations from day 1
• More customer interface points…
• Jet : 4000 employees for 33 planes
• IA : 397 employees for 57 planes
• Leased Aircrafts – though 40% more expensive
– New Gen Aircrafts
– Faster expansion,
• Younger staff with friendly approach to attract customers
• On time performance, Highly reliable
• Pioneered the APEX rate concept in the country
• Neglected for decades, suddenly the Indian consumer was exposed to a
truly world-class service experience, without the price premium
• But above all, it was Jet’s ability to consistently sustain this up-graded
service quality that made the difference.
• Today they own the position of ‘best quality service’ in the domestic airline
• International Operations in UK, Singapore, Middle East.
• Jet Airways. The spirit of new India.
• Young. Smart. Dynamic
Cobra did it!
• Culture of beer drinking in the UK very different from that in India
– Initially considered as a substitute to water
– Now a passion
– Given the status of wines/ Champaign etc.
• Cobra (promoted by an Indian) enters the world’s most competitive beer
market in 1989
• Takes on the might of…
– Brands like ‘Carlsberg’, ‘Heineken’, Budweiser etc.
– Local breweries
"The trouble with all the beers I tasted was that they left you gassy and
bloated and with not enough room for your food.”
• Cobra Beer is a “less gassy” premium Indian lager designed to perfectly
compliment Indian cuisine.
• The company has offices in London, USA, South Africa and India
• Exported to more than 30 countries worldwide.
• Compound annual growth rate of more than 43% in the last nine years.
• Sold in 90% of the top Indian restaurants, as well as most major
• Fresh approach to distribution
• Sold the flavour of India to the Brit
• Product innovation
Dominos - USA
• Traditionally, pizzas are about…
– Taste and aroma, crispiness etc.
– The ambience at the outlet
– Italian connection
• Dominos came and changed the whole perspective…
– Fast food is meant to be exactly that – FAST!!
• Founded in 1960 with one store in Michigan, USA
• 2nd largest chain in the US with players like Pizza
Hut, Little Ceasers, Papa Johns and other small local
• Today they have 7400 outlets in 61 countries
• In India they have 100 stores in 27 cities
• Changed the industry paradigm.
• The promise “Free pizza if not delivered in 30 minutes”
• This promise created immense trust in the minds of the
consumer for the brand.
• Kings of Pizza Delivery had arrived!
• People who haven’t done business with you before, don’t
know you and therefore don’t trust you
• A guarantee removes the risk element from the consumers
• Domino’s understood this well…
• Redefining the paradigm in the Pizza market
• The guarantee itself
• Commitment to the promise
All these success stories are of brands that have
broken the mould, gone against-the-grain and
redefined the parameters of success in their
The classical trap!
• The second or third entrants in a category
usually, believes that “If the leader has done it,
than it must be right”
– They study the brand leader and replicate the
The classical trap!
• Such an approach is doomed to failure…
– Firstly, it is impossible to substitute/ replicate the
relationship that a particular brand has with its
consumer – will be seen as trying hard to connect
– The more you copy the leader, the more he will
What Challengers do…
“I am going to upset the whole world.”
Muhammad Ali, 1964
Think out of the box, continuously…
• Ideas, ideas, ideas…
– Challengers cant sit still…its plain death! Better ideas create
– Not only good ideas, but ideas that differentiate
Can do, will do mind-set…
Challenger brands are prepared to accept the marketing
implications of the gap between “Ambition” and
Is willing to behave in whatever way required to fulfill the ambition
Build stronger bonds with customer…
• More emotional than just rational relationship, resulting in sustainable
• Moreover, there should be intensity in all communications with
But, most importantly
Every stake holder of the brand must
have a challenger mind-set
Some interesting examples of challenger thinking
from our own category
– Follow-up on collections can be seen as rude and impersonal
– Airtel has found a delightfully creative solution…
– When the customer answers the reminder call from the service, he is greeted
with a song which conveys to him that his bill payment is still pending
A Singapore based service provider with presence in more than 20
territories around the world
• All service providers send mundane welcome messages to consumers crossing
over to the network, Singtel identifies the nationality of the customer and sends
him/ her the latest exchange rate of his currency into Singapore dollars
• Sunday, a Hong Kong based service provider.
– Vision: To be the most innovative wireless
communication company in the region
– Mission: To always surpass and exceed consumers
expectations, enriching & to their making a
difference to their lives
• Corporate customers facility of pooling all
employees talk-time together into corporate
– Thus heavy users will have the minutes they need
by drawing on the un-used minutes of the low
• Secretarial service
– Operator to answer calls when you are not
• Temptation service
– Adult content on the cell phone
Some more Challenger Ideas…
Naming the Challenger
• Some challengers have made a huge impact through disruptive
– Virgin, Rado Mirchi, Spice Jet, Yes Bank etc.
• In our category where there are names like…
– BSNL, Airtel, Reliance, Tata Indicom
• Can’t we break the mould with an absolutely young and
Focus on Non-Voice
• Why are VAS at a premium / super premium
– Can we unleash the growth by tinkering the price
– Costs of development are high, but can we play
the volume game here?
Going very local
• Localizing content will help us differentiate ourselves from
• Need to create specialized content for target audience.
• Bhojpuri / folk music. Local festivals / VAS to coincide
with religious festivals, etc.
• Industry norm is using the FMCG distribution for prepaid recharge &
DSA/dealers for postpaid
• Can we look at alternates that are cost efficient & have wider reach…
– Post office
– Peerless network of agents
– LIC agent network
Smoothen the change process to your network :
– Pay for his Voicemail on earlier service (1 month)
– Free sms of new number to all names in Phone book
– Free “Call divert” from old service for 1 month
• Cell penetration in these circles is very low, would it make
sense to offer consumers limited period introductory offer of
calls to landlines at 40 paise (to cover ADC charges)??
• Automatically adjusting the ‘0’ when roaming
• Offer subscribers a back-up sim, incase his sim gets lost or
• Dedicated customer care service for high end consumers
• Directory assistance – equivalent of a ‘yellow page service’ on
the mobile phone