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Search trends on how Malaysians are choosing their mobile plans

This post was done in partnership with Google and Digi.

As a nation that is constantly connected and on the go, it is no surprise that well over half of the Malaysian population chooses to access the internet with their mobile phones. Malaysian mobile users, which make up 97.7% of the population, are faced with a barrage of choices, from service provider options to mobile plans – prompting Malaysians to anticipate and seek the best mobile experience.

But how are they making these choices? In this article brought to you by Think with Google, and Digi, we look at how Malaysians are turning to search to make decisions and how this reveals fascinating shifts in mobile plan preferences.

The postpaid migration

“First I will need to top up.” How many of us still remember using this term in a conversation?

In fact, over the years, many Malaysians seem to be opting out of the need to “top up” and switching to postpaid plans instead. Google’s latest search trends for mobile service plans have shown a yearly increase of 40% in queries on postpaid plans.

This behaviour was also highlighted in Maxis’ latest annual report, stating a decline of 11.4% in prepaid services. The company shared that the migration to postpaid was one of the factors contributing towards the decline.

Mobile service providers have begun to notice this shift and to entice Malaysian consumers, new postpaid bundles are constantly being introduced, blurring the lines separating each product offering.

Confused over what is being offered, Malaysians are turning to search for further research in the hope of making a more informed decision when choosing their postpaid plans. As a result, search queries such as “best postpaid plan” and “compare postpaid plans” alone saw a 60% yearly growth.

Price comes first

When we looked at postpaid searches by price segment, we noticed searches of entry-level plans, priced at RM60 or less, garnered the highest growth rates. This shows a group of eager consumers willing to switch plans, at the right price.

One explanation for the high growth in entry-level plans could be the interest of Millennials (aged 25-34), who make up 29% of the Malaysian population, migrating from prepaid to postpaid.

An internal survey run by Google to better understand the drivers of this shift from prepaid to postpaid found that one in two Millennials had switched from prepaid to postpaid during their first job. Entering the working world with a steady pay cheque, Millennials now have the luxury to prioritise convenience over price.

By understanding this behaviour shift among Millennials, local mobile service provider Digi launched a postpaid plan designed to encourage Millennials to make the switch.

The #JomStart Digi Postpaid plan comes at an affordable price point of RM38 per month, with additional discounts up to RM300 for phone upgrades.

“When we started, we targeted our prepaid subscribers whose monthly phone bills were on the higher side and offered them the option to switch to the #JomStart plan. Upon seeing such a healthy response, we decided to offer it to everyone,” shared Aileen Soo, Digi’s head of digital marketing and engagement.

It’s not all about the money

While pricing is important, it isn’t the only thing Malaysian consumers are looking for when searching for a potential plan.

When we pulled up the search queries for Digi’s Infinite 150 plan, which offers unlimited high-speed internet at three different price points, searches on speed came up on top.

This preference for speed was also seen when Malaysians were searching for mobile plans, be they postpaid or prepaid. With more consumers relying on their phone for work and entertainment, and the rise of original local content on video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Tonton, and YouTube – having a fast service to view videos uninterrupted is critical to consumers.

No longer just a communication tool, a mobile phone is now a primary entertainment platform and having a mobile plan that supports that function is an important deciding factor for many consumers.

So what can mobile operators do?

  1. Mobile operators need to simplify their offering
    With so many brands and plans to choose from, Malaysians are more confused than ever – turning to search to find information and validate their opinions.
  2. Catch consumers’ attention with price, win them over with speed
    The first purchase trigger is often price and affordability. However, it is down to speed and performance when Malaysians decide on a mobile plan.