Why Telecom Brands Might Not Innovate this Year

For over 15 years, Nigeria telecom sector was unarguably the bastion of innovation (product wise) and as far as marketing communication was concerned in general.

From their inundating commercials to their brand engagement events and their often confusing products and value-added services, the telecoms category contributed positively to every aspect of the Nigerian socio-economic configuration.

Times have changed. This is the year 2016. Just as telecom brands such as Glo, MTN, Etisalat, Airtel pushed the boundaries of marketing innovation; technological inventions are changing the way they operate. In case you are no longer thrilled by what telecom brands are ‘innovating’ in recent times, here are three reasons things are the way they are:

  • The OTT Revolution: They used to think this will be in their favour. Over-the-top (OTT) applications became their ‘Achilles heels’. It turns out that developers and nerds behind apps such as WhatsApp, BBM, Viber, Skype and many others have their customers in mind. These apps continue to consume less and less of data. Telcos are pressed for data revenue as voice calls dropped drastically. So why spend money innovating?
  • Changed Demographics: Perhaps telcos have not really appreciated the significance of this, but it is a fact. The generation that made them profitable are fast ageing. The crop of millennials and ‘Trenders’ that now occupy over 70% of their customer base have been exposed to information that wired them differently from their parents. They are digitally-social, less communal and overtly-individualistic.
  • Regulation: Times have really changed. The liberal and or practically non-existing specific policies and regulations at the time of their entrance has given way for a stricter and knowledgeable regulator. Not only in Nigeria, but across Africa; governments are no longer folding their arms watching the telco market dictate the tune. The scourge of terrorism has made matters worse, telcos will have to adapt to a new regime where they have to be accountable to the government first before their shareholders.

Originally published in NextGen, a newsletter of SBI Media.

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