NEW DELHI: India’s telecommunications category is equal parts crowded and cut-throat, with ongoing price wars affecting all major players, but Vodafone, India’s second-largest category player, is now attempting to break the cycle.

“It’s always been at war, telecom is one of the most competitive categories in India. And in the last few quarters this war has become even more brutal,” said Neha Ahuja, VP – Marketing at Vodafone, at the recent Content Marketing Summit Asia held in New Delhi NCR.

She explained that Vodafone’s policy has been to eschew short-term tactics in favour of long-term strategy.

“It wasn’t approached as a two-day war, we wanted to stay relevant for the consumer for longer,” she stated.

“Having said that, it is not easy fighting freebies, so it was a challenge,” Ahuja added. (Read more about how Vodafone is breaking out of the price war cycle here: How Vodafone staked its claim in India’s telco war.)

One of the things Vodafone discovered was that, with the introduction of free or ultra-low cost services, the whole terminology of consumer behavior in the telecommunications category had changed.

“No one talks about (data) megabytes now, it’s only gigabytes,” Ahuja said.

“Now it’s about unlimited plans and 1000GB per day. Free/discounted data has led to liberation of usage, we found that the consumer on an average was on his phone for three to four hours a day.”

But Vodafone’s research also revealed that, deep down, Indians were missing the closeness of pre-mobile times with more direct interactions and real conversations.

“We have a nation full of people becoming alone, we are becoming alone together, and that’s not a good feeling. That is what drove us to create our content,” Ahuja explained.

Vodafone then used the theme of human connection to leverage other occasions, celebrating family and friends, instead of going the freebie route.

“We went anti-category and took a bold step. We were the first telecom brand to start a conversation on balanced use of the phone, of the power of real conversations,” she said.

“It wasn’t about giving up the phone, it was about realising that one must never give up the real conversations.”

Sourced from WARC