Through its mobile brand beMOBILE, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) constantly strives to broaden its operating space by continuously luring new customers. Although the company is still playing catch-up to the old horses in the market, Mascom and Orange, beMOBILE is within a competitive edge as it is currently within the accepted international market share of 14 percent in the local mobile industry.
As part of efforts to broaden its customer base and attract more subscribers, beMOBILE encourages customers to spend a minimum of P20 per week, per subscriber to qualify for free weekend calls. This has been a revenue driver for the mobile company as it also increased its loyalty drive, largely because of the free weekend calls. In its first five years of operation, beMOBILE experienced massive growth in customer base and increased its subscriptions to around 400,000. Asked what prompted the introduction of the beFREE product and who the campaign was targeted at, beMOBILE said they wanted to serve another market segment, being those who are willing to spend at least P30 per week.
“These are mostly people in urban centers. Such a product also provides the flexibility of free calls during the week, hence more innovation and responding to customer needs,” said beMOBILE Head of Communications, Tiro Kganela.
Comparatively, the responses from the market for each product have been encouraging as beFREE20 is the default promo that comes standard with beMOBILE prepaid sim-cards. It is dominated by loyal users, who are the majority in the countryside. beFREE30 on the other hand was only introduced recently and is picking up. The mobile company is turning its focus to more market awareness and education aimed at attracting more users. However, these two products have come with challenges.
The biggest undoing especially for the beFREE20 is network congestion during the weekend. It is for the reason that the corporation is now firmly focused on its network expansion plans. There have also been concerns that the cheap rates offered by beMOBILE would in no time impact on the company’s profitability. However, the company has recorded healthy financial performance in the last five years and continues to do so.