SG telco market's fight for the Millennial wallet: What will it take to come out on top?

The fight for the Millennial wallet is on. Telcos in Singapore have been upping their game plans trying to capture the attention of these new segments with rap songs and lash outs.

Latest to jump into the conversation and win over the hearts of Millennials is Grid Mobile, which made debut last month. Grid boasted off its customisable add-ons for data among others, as well as a referral and loyalty rewards programme to push an integrated rewards lifestyle. In a conversation with Marketing, Seet Ai-Li, head of marketing, Grid Mobile said through the use of emoticons and creatives in its logo, the telco looks to foster strong affinity with its Millennial target audience. Grid Mobile also introduced lifestyle rewards to make it both useful and fun for the millennial consumer.

Meanwhile, Singtel also recently decided to shift its attention to the needs of the Millennial segment by launching its GOMO plan. In April this year, it launched a marketing blitz to drive awareness of its new all-digital mobile product GOMO that caters to Millennials. The telco also developed customised GOMO GIFs for Instagram Stories, alongside catchy phrases such as “Stay woke, not broke” and “Life is lit, when you eat”. Similarly to Grid Mobile, customers on GOMO Mobile will receive lifestyle rewards which would possibly include ride-hailing, entertainment events and activities, and travel-related promotions.

But often priding itself to be the original game changers when it comes to marketing to Millennials is Circles.Life which even went so far to write an open letter to Singtel during the launch of its GOMO offering. The brand's DNA often screams "young" and as such, resonated closely with the younger crowd with its unconventional tactics. With innuendos on ads and customisable add-ons topped with affordable rates, telcos are banking big on the Millennial segment.

Lauding the competition is Kevin Kan, former managing director of AIMIA, who said the competitiveness increases room for innovation and further enhancements in product development. In a conversation with Marketing, Kan said, given that Singapore is a small market, there will be a point of saturation with over five MVNOs operating in the market as products start looking more and more similar and that the Millennial market gets heavily tapped on.

"Good 'ol customer experience" 

But what is the differentiation factor that will set one ahead of another. According to Kan, the target market is slightly price sensitive, and look at "value for money" and the benefits that come with it. Seeing that Grid is launching a loyalty program that allows customers to offset bills, Kan said that telcos have to think about what would be most beneficial to the target segment.

With five players in a small market such as Singapore, he explained that customer experience should be the focal point. Telcos have to remember that Millennials are social media savvy and will not tolerate any poor experiences. Kan said:

Good service or experiences will be a stronger way to retain customers and also enhance a new brand.

For new players to stand out, enhancing customer experience should be key over assessing other MVNOs benefits and plans. Improving CX can be as simple as quality talking lines, no dead-spots and speed of data, Kan said, adding that these are some of the many chatter online.

"Having an easy on-line enrolment and 'fun and friendly' on-boarding process will be critical for success. Even in a virtual world, the basic business success remains the same to have loyal customers and to stand out from the competition - through good old customer service or what is fashionably called today as 'customer experience'," he added.

Echoing a similar sentiment is Prantik Mazumdar, managing partner at Happy Marketer, a Merkle Company. He said great customer experience through bundled plans across data-voice-TV-OTT-apps as well as personalised omni-channel customer service is the route to differentiation.

The telecommunications industry is a "red ocean with too much competition and little differentiation", Mazumdar added, saying that currently, it is an ongoing price war in terms of cashback and rewards to draw customers. However, this will not sustain in the long run, and telcos have to offer bundled plans, flexible contracts and payment plans; exclusive access to content across formats such as video and audio and most importantly real-time, personalised, omni-channel customer service.

While this sounds easier said than done, Mazumdar explained that telcos will have to invest in data-driven systems such as a customer data platform (CDP), marketing automation and marketing clouds and loyalty platforms to understand and treat each customer as an unique individual and better cater to specific needs.

More than just an eye-catching campaign

For Patrick Young, deputy managing director, Kadence International, brands that can genuinely show there’s more than just an eye-catching campaign behind their products, are more likely to succeed. A key element is authenticity, he said, adding it can be demonstrated from putting digital channels front and centre. This includes chatbots and an active social media presence, as well as clear pricing and terms and conditions.

Agreeing with Kan that Millennials are price sensitive, Young said that these individuals also place a greater emphasis on being constantly digitally connected. He added:

Brands that show they understand this tension and are enabling, as opposed to exploiting, are more likely to succeed.

An example of this is an end-of-contract reminder feature by Circles.Life on its website, Young said. "This is a simple but effective way of showing the telco understands Millennials and how this group have unique ways of wanting to be engaged, separate from the older generations."

Young added that the essential role played by smartphones means the value for money of a telco is always going to be a factor, and drive loyalty. The more relevant benefits and rewards are to Millennials, it will more likely play a decision-making role.

"Again, benefits and rewards that continue to enable Millennials digital life, through discounts or extra data, are going to be more effective that broader lifestyle rewards, which may not be as compelling," Young said.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)