Mobile and broadband operator Etisalat has signed up eleven million subscribers in Nigeria since its launch in 2008. They show how companies in emerging markets must often proactively take their brand to the consumer.
The UAE’s Etisalat has grown rapidly to become one of Nigeria’s leading telecoms providers. Last year its subscriber base grew by 59%. But the market is still at an early stage in its development, characterised by strong competition and increasing affordability. By 2016 it’s expected that there will be 152 million telecom subscribers in Nigeria and one billion across Africa. With infrastructure struggling to keep up, brands are having to be innovative to reach new customers.
As demand has increased, Etisalat’s static service centres based in city hubs have proved insufficient, especially as the company is a new entrant to the market. One solution has been the creation of a fleet of mobile service shops housed in branded minibuses. The vehicles are always on the move, normally visiting eight locations in a day and reaching consumers who would otherwise have no direct contact with Etisalat’s stores. The interiors of the buses are relatively spacious and comfortable places to showcase Etisalat’s products and services. In this respect they represent a step change when compared to the basic standard of retail outlets in these more isolated areas.
Consumer Insights: Consumers are eager to embrace technological innovations that introduce new services despite the lack of infrastructure. Many use their mobile devices to make money transfers because similar card-based services are simply unavailable. 70% use their smartphones for social media and 65% for email too.
Brand take-away: Business conditions in emerging markets such as Nigeria are often tough, but that adversity fosters radical innovation. As a result these rapidly growing markets are skipping entire technology formats in order to bring new services to a wider audience.