AirTel is Winning without a Fight

In my opinion, Sri Lanka already has too many mobile service providers for a country of its size. Healthy competition is a virtue in an open economy; but as usual we Sri Lankans defy convention. Conventional wisdom says that competition improves the quality of service but in Taprobane, competition brings down the quality of service – along with the rates.

With the AirTel phobia, the established foursome of mobile service providers (Dialog, Mobitel, Tigo and Hutch) are under-cutting each other and are offering some products that make very little marketing sense. Dialog’s 50% Discount for Lifetime, is one classic example. They are encouraging the consumers to go for deals vs Quality of Service – and encouraging the consumers to jump from one to another. The result: Unbelievable offers, unbelievable deals, and hundreds of different “packages” with none delivering a superior – or at least satisfactory – service. Its the same old shit (pardon my French) – only in a new bucket every time. The fairy-tale connection speeds continue, existing only in their promotional leaflets...

No one ever built a sustainable brand or a loyal consumer base by offering cheap deals. Consumers who get fooled by the cheap deals would leave them, as fast and as quickly as they joined them: a cheaper deal from someone else is all they’d need. The foursome are encouraging this “deal-driven” consumer behaviour and what they are not realising is that they are slowly digging their own grave in brand-loyalty. They are allowing room for cannibalism, instead of widening the the consumer base and attracting profits. Sri Lanka already offers one of the cheapest call rates in the world, and further discounts are going to eat in to their (already slim?) bottom-line. Looks like AirTel is already winning, even without a fight.

Offering superior products and services on the other hand, would attract a better consumer base who wouldn’t mind paying a premium for a better quality of service they’d receive. They would stay for longer, pay for longer – in return for a hassle-free and trouble-free service. They’d be loyal to their brand and they’d be the best spokespersons any brand could ever have.

Being the market leader, Dialog doesn’t need to feel threatened by the entry of AirTel. Mobitel shouldn’t be scared either. They should have the confidence to take the higher road and offer what the consumers are aching for: unmatchable superior service. Then, they can shelve the deals and rest easy – for they would know that their customers don’t carry an “extra SIM” from the competitor in their wallet anymore.

I might be the only one complaining about the quality of service – most of us have the habit of “switching” to something better without trying the “fix” the problem at hand. I guess selling a mobile “package” in Sri Lanka is more like selling potatoes at the Sunday Fair – there’s no brand loyalty for potatoes, and looks like there’s no point in talking about it either.

1 comment:

  1. Good post.

    Cannibalising customers leads to cannibalising themselves.

    If there is any marketing talent in the industry, this is the test that will expose them, unfortunately there seems to be none.

    Who needs a marketing man to tell someone to lower price in order to sell?