“Chinese will manage Pakistan’s market, and they will outplay everyone… They know how to get it”, I was told this by Mr. Frederic Rose, President then, Alcatel Shanghai Bell, Alcatel-Lucent’s flagship company in China. He was here in Islamabad to sign one billion dollars network expansion contract assigned to Alcatel-Lucent by China Mobile, which had recently acquired Paktel.
He replied me up given line when I had asked him that Pakistan’s market is already well saturated, how come a cellular company starting from scratch will be able to compete with Giants like Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid… given that, all these four companies bear very strong financial background, as well expertise of running GSM networks in multiple regions.
I am wondering now that how true Mr. Rose was. Yes, China Mobile has proven itself as a brand now, and it looks like they are going to give tough time to other cellular companies in coming days.
The hardest part for China Mobile was to rebuild the image that had been lost by Paktel; often we see, it’s easy to make a new building, than of restructuring a damaged one.
I was discussing this success of Zong with Babar Bhatti, who was kind enough to give me time before leaving for US tomorrow, and he rightly spotted that China Mobile didn’t rush in launching its brand. Zong took its full time in preparation and came up with a very powerful launch campaign, though we found that campaign as copied one, but until then it had left its impact on Pakistanis.
Targeted Low End Market
“Target the low and middle end market” According to me, this is the tagline of Zong’s strategy. They researched (or I don’t know if they really researched or it just happened – because we don’t see Pakistani companies doing research), understood Pakistani market and came up with products and offers that masses wanted. Yes, they were least interested in very few number of elite class customers, instead they hit the low end market.
Didn’t Rush for Offerings
The calmness we saw in launch campaign was also observed in latter promotions and offerings. Let me point out Zong’s free call on one number package, they introduced it a month earlier than they started advertising it. Meanwhile, it remained in what you can say beta version.
There is another example, when Mobilink offered Rs. 1 Per min call, which was responded next day by Telenor with a similar offer. Ufone in a week or so came up with Uwon, while Zong took 2 months to start Rs. 1 per min call. It shows how calmly they observe market trends before launching products.
Offered Suitable Package for Everyone
Zong has offered a package for everyone … either its young, old, kid, girl, student, housewife or whatever! You have a matching package to select from.
For example, lets review following offerings
- Unlimited GPRS in Rs. 400
- Rs. 15 per Hour GPRS
- Free calls round the clock on One number
- 75 Paisas call on all networks (30 second pulse)
- Hourly packages, in the night and in day too
- Aik second Package
- One International number at 50 Paisa
- 500 SMS in Rs. 3 Per day (Earlier there was no cap on number of SMS)
Grabbed Early Customers with Book Your Number Service
You clearly see, there is one package that suits you best…! Such good packages were coupled with Book Your desired Number, which actually resulted into miles long queues that reminded us of year 2004-05 times.
Not looking for Revenues in Short Term
Worst of all (for other companies) China Mobile is not looking for revenues in near future from Pakistan, meaning that they are in mood of playing long. I am not sure what limits they are going to reach in coming years, yet they already have established a brand, named as ZONG.
Low Operating Expenses
All of you will agree that Zong’s offices are least liverish compared to of other cellular company in Pakistan, hence saving many of operating expenses. What they say “Kam Karch – Bala Nasheen”
Things to Improve – Call Center
There are couples of things where Zong is badly lacking, and I hope Zong’s higher authorities are aware of these. One is their call center… very ordinary, in fact worst of all. They need to scale up their work force. We were told that they are setting up a contact center in Lahore back in July, but there has nothing happened up till now. Callers are made to wait for hours to get responded. Also there are certain reports raising questions about their network – but i guess network issue will be taken care of by planned investment in coming year .
So this was about Zong, and how they managed to grab 6 million subscribers in record time.
I would like you your thoughts as well.