Readers may be familiar with an induction principle used by drug cartels. New drug lords wanting to penetrate the market would kidnap teenagers and force drugs on them and release them. This was done several times up to a point at which the kids became addicted. The teenagers are released eventually but drugs still made available for free. They would involuntarily return for a regular dosage. At the most critical moment, the drugs were then sold. Naturally the kids went through all sorts of means to get money to quench their drug appetite. They became unwilling addicts; a guaranteed market.
Econet and Telecel have followed the same principle with their unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook bundles. They have basically introduced and induced a usage culture increasing the traffic on the two applications. They are within genuine business confines of course in doing this. Competitions and promotions area allowed to run for 3 months after which they can be renewed. Telecel for one has built their brand on recurring promotions like their perpetual Mega promotions giving up to 100% bonuses on airtime purchased.
- Telecel Launches ‘Mega Juice Card’, Subscribers Get US $2 Bonus Time For Every $1 (29.03.10)
- Telecel Extends Mega Juice Promotion Duration, Reduces Bonus Minutes To US $1 (18.05.10)
- Telecel Zimbabwe extends the Mega Bonus Reloaded cheap calls promo (25.09.13)
- Telecel unleashes mega bonus on competing networks, effectively reduces tariffs! (06.06.13)
Econet, coming from a larger bouquet of products and services offers not so frequent but arguably more generous promotions per niche market. The EcoCash’s 1 Million Dollar Waya Waya Promotions was arguably one of the largest ever promotion giving away more than 1 million dollars’ worth of prices. Noticeable however is Econet’s conspicuous absence from the calling promos that customers favour more, choosing instead to surgically and precisely target the more eventual niches such as Cross boarder tolls, Contract customers, and device promotions. You could say while Telecel promotions seek to diminish the switching cost from other networks by offering simple and immediate returns, Econet seeks more to consolidate their already large subscriber base and stimulate activity in diversified product portfolios.
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- Econet promo slashes cost of international calls by up to 50% (07.08.12)
- Econet launches underwhelming $1 for 10 free minutes service (08.08.13)
- Econet contract customers will now call at half price on weekends & holidays (14.03.14)
NetOne may be last but definitely not least. Their Dollar a day promo and Mahala Weekend is probably one of the most rewarding promotions albeit on on-net calls only and in itself shifts the costing philosophy towards unlimited packages in voice.
Pulling the Plug
We don’t have the statistics of the surge in data consumption since the unlimited promotions for WhatsApp and Facebook but I can pre-empt and speculate that phenomenal induction success has been achieved. Take a teenager who used to connect and disconnect data connection to save $0.50 for close to a month to make sure he could always chat on WhatsApp. The same subject has been promoted to $1.00 per week unlimited uploads and downloads on the same platform. Econet, well, and Telecel, can almost assuredly bag this customer’s $4.00 per month instead of the original $0.50.
Moreover, even if they are to review the cost upwards or at worst “pull the plug” on the unlimited promotion, they have already induced an appetite and dependency (addiction) on social networks, (Facebook and WhatsApp junkies) enough to significantly alter the usage culture of their subscribers upwards, especially in this soccer World Cup season. Undoubtedly, subscribers will go to all sorts of means to get a treat.