Get a life, get a Gig, Show your Swag or Get 100% Back- The Zambian battle of the bundles


The battle for the youthful mobile user took on yet another twist. We break it down for you as to whether you should “Get a life” or  “Show your Swag”  or a 100% extra data back, or  whatever else is coming next. Yesterday Zamtel posted on their Facebook page about slashing their price of the 1GB bundle from  about K120 to K49, and pricing their 20MB daily bundle for K2.09, effective 30th July to the 27th of October, 2014.

The good news: It’s a major price drop from the previous price of about K120 so it will be well received by the data hungry cash strapped youth. This user loves to gobble up  their data fast, cheap and plenty over the shortest possible time.

The sad news: It’s only valid for 7 days! We wonder why, the previous bundle was valid for 30. Well thats are rather short life! Maybe the thought process behind this was a trade off, price versus period of use. This way Zamtel effectively manages cannibalisation of  revenue by non youthful users enjoying this new bundle.

The official news: According to Zamtel’s Manager of Corporate Communications Kennedy Mambwe, the promotion was rolled out to meet the increasing need for data from their consumers. He said Zamtel wants to increase access to the internet by reducing the cost of data bundles and the 1GB was a good place to start. As for the validation period dropping from 30 days to 7, he says most people are now using up data bundles in less than a month so the time period for expiry is not a big deal. Yeah right!

The unofficial news: Not all the users are transferring large files so the 7 day expiry is quite short. Some depend on a bundle to use for less data consuming apps like WhatsApp or Viber for which they communicate with more than they do via phone calls or SMS. If Zamtel wanted to increase the access to internet, they should not have messed with the validity by lowering it from 4 weeks to 1. However they need to protect revenue by limiting the period. Similar to what restaurants do overseas. All you can eat between 1200 and 1400 hrs and no “doggy bags” with food to take away. This is clever targeting, we don’t have the market size figures yet but we believe this space has potential to grow and bring in new users.

The competition for data space domination is high among mobile operators. If we take a look at Airtel for example, they rolled out the free Facebook promotion last month aggressively addressing the  Zambian youth, allowing users  to browse Facebook for free as long as they keep a minimum of K2 in their mobile account a month. All the promotional pictures I see have youth on them meaning that they do know their target audience. Take a look at the picture below. ‘Show your swag‘? That’s lingo common with ‘cool kids’, depicted by 3 “young”  ladies below. Given they could have done better with “younger” models in their “teens” , a minor detail of course. The difference with Zamtel here is that the focus is on Top Up and minimum balance. Airtel are happy to forgo any revenue from Facebook on condition you have a minimum balance. If you have a minimum K2 balance,  chances are you are going to spend on voice and other services. The drive is to keep the youth on the network and not SIM card switching. No revenue or sales cannibalisation protection here, simply an aggressive offensive in a claw back campaign to address dwindling customer numbers in the youth space!


Could Zamtel be trying to respond to this? You bet they are! Get a life, get a Gig is a direct in your face punch. The word “Gig” has a double connotation , not only being a unit a measure for data it also means  “party” in youth speak. We haven’t seen the models yet or any of the pictorials of the Zamtel ad campaign but their focus on ALL the social media platforms makes their intentions very clear. Bring it on lets show our “Swag” at the “Gig” in the social media youth playground !

Then we turn our focus to MTN. What do they have going on for them that’s attracting users? They have a 100% extra data promo that gives you back whatever bundle you load between 5MB and 2GB, but the downside is the extra data is only valid for 24 hours. If I bought a 2GB bundle, and get 2GB I would go crazy trying to finish off the extra by downloading all I can. It almost feels like an unconscious rush to get my money’s worth. Even if you don’t use up the extra bundle the same day, you can almost feel a sense of loss on your part because a marketing ‘expert’ thought 24 hours was a good enough timeline.  Again here the revenue protection strategy being deployed and the trade off of price versus time being also favoured. Going by the strap line ‘Oh the things you’ll learn’, it’s clear that the youth are the target audience, the curious ones, as seen  by the bespectacled little girl waiting for the egg to hatch in this particular poster below. Packed with emotion appealing to the parents (purchases of the bundle) rather than the youth (users of the bundle).  Again here MTN are being clever as not define where the bundles should be used (Social Media) but have left it hanging in the education Wikipedia space. Emphasis being put on the parents to invest in their children’s education rather than entertainment. Kudos for standing out.


Who wins the battle for the youth pocket money waits to be seen. Will you “Swag”, have a “Gig” or have some “Wiki” on the side ? We’ll keep you posted as the punch up continues.

PS. Pocket money is big business given that some 50% of the Zambian population is below the age of 18 years and that at least 60% of the population have mobile phones. If you catch them early they will spend large amounts of money with you over their lifespan as a mobile user on your network!


Image Credits:  Zamtel,  Airtel and MTN Facebook pages


Tech Blogger & Marketer.

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