This guest blog is by Nick Licence, Regional Strategy Planning Director at DentsuAegis / SenseAsia

Network capability, brand trust, price and convenient service are the factors defining consumer intent in the telecommunications product sector in South East Asia, new research reveals.

Results from the recent Dentsu SenseAsiaTM telecommunications survey across South East Asia show a number of key attributes (focusing on trust, service levels and network capability – see chart below) that potential telecommunications consumers deem important throughout every stage in the purchase journey.

These can be viewed as guidelines for telecommunications brands in the region as they compete to ensure they achieve their baseline average revenue per user (ARPU) targets.

In the drive to reduce churn and ensure maximum value is extracted from each customer, telecommunications brands face a challenging environment where ARPU increases are gained through the addition and provision of incremental services. These additional service attributes vary in importance throughout the path to purchase.

At the Consideration stage, the price of both voice and data services, network coverage and brand imagery attributes are deemed most important.

However, as consumers move through Preference and Purchase stages, the focus turns towards more functional offering and capability; with attributes such as loyalty & rewards, roaming services and online account management serving to differentiate the players. With identical levels of importance ascribed to these attributes across Preference and Purchase, this suggests a highly commoditized, extremely competitive marketplace.

Ultimately, as ‘Plan/Service that fits my needs’ remains the most important attribute throughout the purchase cycle, telecommunications brands in the region need to ensure they are pushing flexibility as a core element of their offering.

The ability to develop and offer personalized mobile plans according to differing consumer needs will remain a core driver for the foreseeable future, with brands who demonstrate this capability coming out on top.

The second most important attribute throughout the purchase cycle is ‘Brand I Trust’, reinforcing the need for Telecommunications to spend time and effort in communicating transparency and clarity; this latter point also being supported by the third most important attribute ‘Easy To Understand Plans / Services’.

Clearly, there are a number of marketing implications for telecommunications brands, first and foremost being the importance of ensuring they win at the initial Consideration phase. Telecommunications brands that succeed here place themselves in a far stronger position to drive ARPU once they move into communicating more cutthroat Preference and Purchase messages.

Dentsu SenseAsia™ is a proprietary survey carried across 3,500 respondents in the SEA region. Accessible via the NEON platform, it covers demographics, psychographic & attitudinal statements as well as brand health, usage and consumption.