INTERVIEW: CEO, MOBILE ZONE
'CELL PHONE MARKET TOWARDS SATURATION'
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mar 03 - 09, 2008
Modern sales techniques of contemporary era muster a great deal of attention from telecom companies in Pakistan for its rapid and befitted adaptability with the marketable interactive products like cellular phones, which expanded its base from 0.3 million in the end of year 2000 to around 75 million today according to PTA statistics. These sales techniques devised to retain customers on a long term basis through consistent satisfaction chain necessitate its importance in sales and marketing of cellular phones especially for two essential reasons. First cellular market in the country has grown with supersonic pace and recorded magnificent growth rate specifically after 2002, when cellular phones started eating into market share of fixed telephony line. And, integrated competition emanated from inside and outside national border has changed perceived values, held by customers for telecommunication products; expectations of customers about quality services and features of cellular phones have rampantly been multiplied. Consequently, customers' displeasure or discontent over features and convincible points of cellular phones at the time of purchase means unexecuted sale. Second and most essential reason is surety of machine reparability after sale is made. This is what Parvez Abbasi calls "value creation". The chief executive officer of Mobile Zone believes that to customers value creation should matter more than price of a cell phone. While explaining his point in an interview with the PAGE, he said there are varieties of imported and local mobile phones available in the market. Expensive and inexpensive lots are equally showcased, but if customer goes for inexpensive one then he or she might be replacing it with the new one awhile due to durability element associated with the inexpensive option. On the contrary, paying one-time high price prevents customer repurchasing over a long period of time.
INVESTMENT IN SERVICES
Mobile Zone is acclaimed of its initiating 12-month warranty for a cellular phone. It is one of the largest mobile phone marketing and service companies of the Pakistan dealing in multiple brands of cell phones across the nation as well as in Afghanistan and in Bangladesh. He said foreign market entry has been very promising for the company. "We have received good response over there," he added. Responding to a question that how did he differentiate his company from competitors? Parvez Abbasi said every business concern can import cell phones from abroad and sale them accordingly in the local market, but not every body can ensure sustainable post sale services to customers. "We have invested a lot in services segment of the market. We envisaged a company where sale and services go hand in hand," he said. Mobile Zone has started its operation in 2002 demarcating dual core areas of focus. One is sales and marketing of mobile devices and second is services. With a fully equipped and state of the art service facility in its head office, MZ has about eighty engineers and technicians for repairing and overhauling of handsets under-warranties. Talking about the cost of services, he said, it is an agreement between us and our supplier that covers cost of repairing. Briefly, the company charges in advance such cost from manufacturer or supplier. The entire machineries and equipments, set up in the facility, were imported from abroad and cost us approximately $2.5 million, he informed. The area around the facility is uploaded with commendable precautionary measures. He said precautions are adopted to stave off any damage to sensitive works.
SATURATED CELL PHONE MARKET
According to Parvez, cell phone market of Pakistan has been saturated and he projected a 15 to 20 percent marginal growth prospect. "Almost, cell phones have reached to every corner around the nation," he commented. Presently, buying is at most taking place for exchanging old handset with updated, replacing, or reselling. Local people are accustomed to change their mobile phones in a year, he said while referring to an estimate. His company is able to stock out 5 million handsets per annum, which he said, is around 60 to 70 percent of total market share. Previously, imported phones rendered loss of market in Pakistan because of having no locally operative service centre and, therefore people found it imprudent to have product with incorrigible risks. However, afterwards local investment trend not only in marketing of foreign-manufactured cellular phones but also in their after-sales services rejuvenated sale of many international brands. Since establishing such setup requires heavy investment, he said, delays in returns must be bearable concurrently. When asked, does dealing in so many brands simultaneously call neglect of a particular brand? He replied MZ has a business philosophy of providing multiple brands to customers from a single outlet. And, our sale is normally volume-based and keeps vigilance on mechanism of demand and supply. Therefore, it is less likely to cause arbitrary depreciation of a brand. In addition to this, our business philosophy of giving range of multiple choices make customers decide about buying at ease. Having contributed his about 16 years in telecommunication sector, Parvez Abbasi started his career in British Telecom, UK following graduation from University of North London. Upon his return back to Pakistan in 1992, he was one amongst three persons who laid the operational ground for Mobilink in Pakistan. He joined MZ with a passion to facilitate and serve emerging telecom market. He said MZ is on the preference list of supplier because of its immaculate supply network across and beyond the nation and sustainable service provision plate form. He said the company has strong infrastructure for maintaining persistent supply.
Believing that every day is a great day, he is hopeful of continuing and maximizing deliverables to telecom customers. He said his was the first company that launched mobile insurance in the nation. We are the trail blazer in many telecom scenes across the country. He reiterated value creation is the single guarantor of profitable business for telecom operators in Pakistan amid tightening customer base. As investment should be made in bettering services companies must have strategic plan to solidify brand loyalty of their customer through ensuring quality services.