Column : Battle for airwaves, on the ground

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Updated: Oct 31 2009, 03:38am hrs
The battle for the Indian cellular service provider market is gaining momentum. With the availability of number portability option in 2010, mobile phone users are now checking out the merits of various players in this sector. Major cellular service providers such as Vodafone , Airtel and Idea Cellular are scripting fresh game plans to retain existing customers as well as lure new cellphone users across the country.

Just walk into any Vodafone gallery in Mumbai and you will see companys uniformed employees answering endless queries from prospective customers. No need to say its also action time at AirTel and Loop Mobile galleries. However, Idea Cellular franchises in Mumbai wear a dull look despite the bright painted interior.

Operators are responding. For instance, with an estimated customer base of 82.84 million, Vodafone Essar is beefing up its marketing operations to woo new customers. Enthused by the response to its ZooZoo ad campaign featuring egghead mascots, it has tied up with retailer Shoppers Stop to launch ZooZoo merchandise across the country. Remember how these animated characters created a splash during the second season of the IPL.

With a subscriber base of 110 million people, Airtel, the market leader in this category, is not far behind. It is in the process of rolling out its power-packed ad campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan. According to AirTel, the new campaign was launched to demonstrate the power of the largest people network in the country. With 110 million people together, good things are bound to happen to everyone, says SRK in Airtel latest ad campaign. Across the road, Idea Cellular has recently launched a high voltage television campaign with tagline Walk when you talk.

At present, the Indian mobile market consists of more than 400 million mobile subscribers and is growing at 15 million new connections per month. In essence, service providers and handset manufacturers across the country are looking forward to explosive growth of this sector as India skips the copper wire and heads straight for wireless networks.