CELCOM is considered a doyen in the Malaysian telecommunications industry. Member of the Axiata group of companies, the company has seen its share of tumultuary beginnings. This Phoenix has risen from the ashes several times in the past; from the Asian financial crisis to the debt crunch to demergers. Celcom endured. With the silver in her hair, Celcom stands tall today; the beau ideal for its bold and adventurous campaigns, risen and rising. In a recent interview Zalman Aefendy, the chief marketing officer, shares with us the near future of the company. Celcom is bold as ever and realistically unnerved with the new competition in the market.
... Kolony the first and largest SMS-based social network in Malaysia, It has more than 3.3 million Kolony Frens interacting on a daily basis...
What does 2012 look like for Celcom?
The telecommunications industry is resilient, with continuous quarter-on-quarter revenue and subscriber growth for nearly all operators. With new devices, particularly smartphones, tablets and advanced feature phones being pushed into the market, the demand for data services and content is ever growing, and shifting the industry focus. In the face of growth in data services, we anticipate a slowdown in voice revenue; however we remain optimistic that Celcom will uniquely sustain growth in voice with some innovative planned offerings.
What are opportunities you see for your category and industry, in the wake of market restlessness with financial meltdowns and natural disasters of late?
In the face of an economic slowdown, we need to have an aggressive marketing plan to ensure we can adapt to the changes in the market and still address consumer communication needs. Communications remains a very core part of the consumers' needs, and our subscribers are looking for different ways to communicate more. We have heard this voice, and to that end have since launched more voice and data plans, along with Kolony the first and largest SMS-based social network in Malaysia. We are also putting in place the requisite business intelligence to leverage all that we know about our customers, in order to provide customized content recommendations, frequent visitor programs, tailored price plans, multi-screen access bundles, and other 'value-added' propositions.
What advice will you give your advertising and media agencies for the coming year in order for them to 'come up to speed' with plans, changes and expectations?
Always keep the consumer at the forefront and be sure to adapt to the change. Consumers will adapt to changing economic and social factors in order to ensure that they are still able to maintain their lifestyles as much as possible, but priorities will be set. We need to make sure we stay relevant and at the top-of-mind when consumers need to make that choice. The immediate instinct is to usually reduce spending in tough times. However since consumers choose more carefully and need to prioritize during times like this, brands need to ensure that they still stand out and are visible in consumer’s eyes.
Where does social media stand in your marketing plans for 2012?
Social media stays relevant and becomes even more important as consumers become more savvy with media consumption and the incidence of mobile devices that are data enabled become more wide spread among consumers.
What are today’s dos and don’ts when looking at digital marketing?
In order to be most effective in the digital space, brands need to engage in a conversation with consumers versus one way delivery of messages. Honesty goes a long way in building trust with consumers.
How should Malaysian marketers balance adventure, or risk-taking, with hard-nose boardroom policies when it comes to digital ad spend?
As consumers get more savvy and markets get even more competitive, brands need to constantly find new ways to stand out from the competition. Some risks are necessary in order to stay ahead. What’s important is to stay true to the brand promise and define clear objectives of the campaign, objectives that are measurable. That way marketers can learn from successes and mistakes, and adapt in subsequent campaigns.
How would you encourage marketers, without them losing the plot of the bigger game in the digital space for their brands? In other words, how do you help ensure they get not only the best possible bang for their buck but also pre-empt their competitor, at least for the short term?
Marketers need to practice what they preach and constantly immerse themselves as consumers. There's no better way to learn about social media marketing than by actively participating in social media. That’s the only way to get first hand experience of what works and what doesn’t.