As a company that was launched in 2008 and therefore a comparatively late entrant in telecommunications, China Mobile’s strategy to capture market share was to home in on segmentation almost from the get go.
According to Tamseel Alvi, Segment Manager, China Mobile, because of the almost total lack of differentiation between the telcos, customers do not stick to a company out of loyalty; they simply pick the package that best meets their needs.
Alvi says that Zong’s strategy is to identify those segments which have unique needs, are sufficiently large and would be profitable if targeted.
Zong’s latest campaign, Meri duniya meray khwab, for its Flutter package, is the result of the company having now identified women as such a segment.
The idea is not new; both Mobilink Jazz and Ufone have already launched their women-specific packages, nevertheless, says Alvi, the potential here remains largely untapped given that women account for approximately 25% of the total subscribers in the market “They are an underexplored segment compared to business consumers or the young.”
Mobilink Jazz’s Ladies First package tried to appeal to women in October 2010 by offering them reduced call rates early in the morning and SMS-based beauty tips and recipes at a cost of Rs 30 per month. In February 2011, Ufone’s Lady’s Corner package built on that by offering, with a reduced subscription rate, more SMS based value added services and reduced call rates towards Ufone and PTCL numbers.
Flutter focuses on some similar value added services while foregoing any major difference in call rates compared to other Zong packages.
Alvi points out that when it comes to phone usage, customers base their buying decisions on two factors: price and functionality, and that the calling habits of women are not very different from those of men. So although Flutter does offer a bundle of 75 free minutes and 100 SMS’ at a nominal subscription rate of four rupees per day, the appeal to women is based on the value added services and other features it offers. These include drama alerts, celebrity gossip, recipes, health tips, family and child care suggestions, a call blocking service (to ward off prank phone calls), agony aunts for relationship advice, ‘Zubaida apa kay totkay’, and a service that educates women on their legal rights in Islam.
To make the package more user friendly, Flutter has introduced ‘one-touch accessibility’, because, says Alvi, “research highlighted the fact that women are not comfortable dialling short codes to access services. So we made the package even friendlier by enabling users to access services by just touching a button on the phone.”
Flutter also carries significantly more colour and imagery than any of the previous packages aimed at women – so much so that even the cursor on Flutter’s webpage resembles a butterfly.
Mazhar Salam, Senior Brand Manager, China Mobile, says this was done deliberately to tie in with the product’s name.
“Flutter connotes the movement of a butterfly’s wings when it tries to fly, which is symbolic of the feeling a woman experiences when she sets off on a journey to fulfil her dreams and aspirations.”
According to Salam, the name of the product, which was proposed by Zong’s then creative agency, Adétude, was initially met with scepticism by the company’s executives (they wanted a ‘stronger’ name) but Adétude’s confidence won the day.
The Flutter campaign elicited some comment due to the TVC causing some people to think it chauvinistic by virtue of having a man playing the role of a woman’s guide.
Clarifying the intent behind the purpose, Zareen Rathor, Creative Director, Adétude, says “There was no sexist intent. In a society such as ours, a man has a big role to play in a woman’s life. The man in the TVC is merely encouraging the woman to realise her dreams; he is not telling her what to do.”
Salam adds that the campaign has been well received, claiming that Flutter is now one of the company’s best selling products. Although unwilling to give actual figures, both Alvi and Salam say that the campaign exceeded the original target. To give an idea of its reception, Salam says Flutter’s Facebook page notched up 5,000 likes in the first 20 days of the campaign.
As part of the campaign, Zong also endorsed Pakistan’s 800-metre dash hopeful at the Olympics, Rabia Ashiq, and plans to continue such endorsements in the future. It will also continue promoting Flutter across TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising as well as through on-ground activations.
As of May 2012, the company has 16.56 million subscribers (Source: PTA) placing it fourth among the telecom companies in a market of 119.9 million cell phone users. And while that figure would imply that Zong still has a long way to go, for Alvi and crew, the success of the Flutter campaign means that the company is on the right track in its efforts to segment the market.