Dear Marketing Executives - "Average" the Needs of Indians at Your Own Peril

The genuine ability to cross-analyse and micro-segment the India market right down to the individual, and act on it through reaching the customer with the right message on the their device at the right time and place, at their email address or at the retail store, couldn’t come sooner

Mohammad Chowdhury
Updated: Sep 2, 2013 11:46:34 AM UTC

Mohammad Chowdhury is PwC's Telecom, Media and Technology consulting leader across Australia, SE Asia and New Zealand. Until recently he built the practice in India where he became one of the most quoted industry experts in the country. Mohammad has served as an adviser to telecom sector reform in Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia and during 2015 as national telecommunications adviser to the Government of Myanmar. Previously in his career he has conducted significant strategic roles at Vodafone and IBM. He is quoted regularly by the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, CNBC, TV-18 and NDTV. Mohammad has worked in 83 countries, lived in 7 and speaks 6 languages. He has a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, an MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University, and strategy training from Harvard Business School. He was born in London, has family origins in Bangladesh, and is married with two sons.

India represents possibly the most varied single market in the world, and the table below bears this out.  Selling commonly defined products and services to a billion people with varied needs is always a challenge, and a “one-size-fits-all” approach is fraught with peril. Check the data set compiled below for the Indian Telecom Circles :

 

 

Telecom circle

Population (m)

Global population equivalent

GDP/capita   (INR Rs)

Global GDP/capita equivalent

Delhi

19

Romania

175,812

Morocco

Andhra Pradesh

86

Ethiopia

71,540

Lesotho

Gujarat

61

UK

75,115

Pakistan

Karnataka

62

Italy

69,493

Philippines

Maharashtra (inc Mumbai)

93

Philippines

84,058

Vietnam

Tamil Nadu

73

Turkey

84,048

Vietnam

West Bengal (inc Kolkata)

73

DRC (Congo)

55,864

Kenya

Haryana

26

Australia

109,227

Moldova

Kerala

35

Canada

83,725

Ghana

Madhya Pradesh

100

Philippines

41,167

Bangladesh

Punjab

29

Venezuela

78,171

Yemen

Rajasthan

70

Thailand

42,434

Myanmar

UP (West)

90

Brazil

Not estimated

-

UP (East)

125

Not estimated

Assam

32

Peru

33,633

Burkina Faso

Bihar

139

Russia

27,681

Ethiopia

Himachal Pradesh

7

Panama

73,608

Pakistan

Jammu & Kashmir

13

Zimbabwe

41,833

Afghanistan

North East

14

Malawi

Not estimated

-

Orissa

42

Argentina

46,150

Zimbabwe

 

For the purposes of licensing, India was carved up by the Department of Telecommunications into 22 Local Service Areas, commonly known as “circles.”  My team did some analysis recently of just how varied the circles are, by showing the contrasts in population, economic might and income per capita. As well as broadening my geographic imagination, it made me think of how varied this country really is: India has a 7x earnings ratio between poorest and richest:

  • Delhi’s average GDP/capita is INR 1.75 Lakh, whereas Bihar’s is only INR 27,000.  Globally, that’s rather like comparing the average person in Morocco (whose GDP/capita is the same as Delhi’s) with someone in Ethiopia (which has the same as Bihar)
  • India has a 30x differential in most versus least populous regions: the two circles which make up UP have a population of 200m whereas Himachal Pradesh, the least populous circle, has 7m. UP compares to Brazil in population, whereas mountainous HP only has the population of Panama.
  • Gujarat has the population of the UK but the GDP per capita of Pakistan
  • Bihar has the population of Russia but an economy only the size of Uzbekistan and Bosnia combined.

 

Telecom marketing is advanced when it comes to segmentation, with operators having strategies by segment, circle, and smaller zonal units too. But most of the campaigns which leverage this savviness apply to tariff offers only to drive usage or prevent churn.  There isn’t much out there that treats us differently, by way of service quality, credit policies, whether we are prepaid or post-paid, let alone anything that’s properly based on our wider individual preferences for consumption and entertainment.

In a recent market survey conducted by my team, we found that telcos may be missing opportunities to target customers because of generalizing too much by region, profession or SEC classification.  But by cross-analysing two groups (eg SEC class versus profession) we are finding some interesting insights. For example, while only 1 in 7 of a segment would consider switching from a prepaid connection to a postpaid one, when analysed against their profession, the number jumps to 35% for some sub-segments.

The big data revolution is being talked about by everyone. The genuine ability to cross-analyse and micro-segment the India market right down to the individual, and act on it through reaching the customer with the right message on the their device at the right time and place, at their email address or at the retail store, couldn’t come sooner.

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