Wharton Knowledge – The Power Of A Missed Mobile Call In Emerging Economies

Quick.. If you want to have an effective way to do mobile marketing in emerging economies, what do you do?

Well… try this proven technique.

There are different names for it.

In India it is called missed call.
In Philippines it is called miskol.
In Africa it is called beep.
In Indonesia it is called memancing.
In Pakistan it is called flashcall.

In an insightful article on the culture of missed calls, UPenn Wharton takes us through the origin of this issue 5 years ago and how it is thriving in the here and now.

If one has ever heard the concept of “collect calls”, this must sound familiar. This is the concept of reverse charge call where the calling party wants to place a call at the called party’s expense.

Under the concept of “Missed call marketing (MCM)“, a similar thing is happening in the emerging economies.

According to an article on The Hindu, Ozonetel Systems– a pioneer and a leading provider of on-demand cloud communication services in India has handled 700 missed calls in 9 months leading upto February 2016 and will handle a billion missed calls in a year.

Consumers call back in response to ads targeted at them, but hang up without connecting.

Companies then call them back or send messages with deals, coupons and offers.

More than that, the companies gain valuable information of customer interests, preferences and profiles so that ads can be more precisely targeted. Ozonetel has been handling missed calls for the past four years.

Such has been the power of the MCM phenomenon that ZipDial, an Indian startup that was successful in capitalizing on the prevalence of “missed calls” and was bought by Twitter in early 2015.

The way in which these MCM marketing firms work is quite simple and is illustrated in this figure below:

Source: https://www.ozonetel.com/

According to the Wharton article, the missed call marketing has even crossed the income divide, where in recently a luxury housing project had a “Give a missed call to xxxxxxxxxx for more information” tucked away at the bottom of each page.

Politicians and political parties, have been using them to reach to their followers and for their membership drives.

Employer provident funds and Banks are using MCM to help their members with tracking their account balance.

Nestlé’s Bunyad is an iron-rich product specially focused on school-going children to prevent iron deficiency. The brand offered free talk-time top-up to anybody who gave a missed call and listened to the Bunyad message. “We called the user back through an automated system, educating them on the issue,” says Jafri. “The response was way beyond our expectations. Also, we now have a database of these listeners to engage them further with Nestle Bunyad.”

How big is the business in India? There is no simple answer. Three years ago, The Economic Times put it at Rs. 5 billion (approx 75 million USD). But that was in the days before Big Data came into the picture. “Trial prices start at Rs. 1,000 (less than $15) a month,” says Sunil Jain. Add a substantial dose of number crunching and the bill could shoot up to 100 times as much. “The size of the market is difficult to estimate,” says Rajesh Jain.

Author: Venkata Gandikota

Venkata has more than 13 years of technical engineering, research, ideation, strategy and business modeling experience. Based on his experience with the Indian market and realizing also the need for affordable & sustainable solutions for Finland and other European markets, he started The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society in late 2013 with 2 colleagues. By organizing ideation workshops and 2 major conferences involving Cities, Universities, and businesses he started to mainstream the concept in Finland and the Nordics. Gandikota has also written several articles focusing on frugal innovations in the Finnish media. He has also been helping Finnish businesses in India as CEO of Indianeer Consulting and gives guest lectures at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. He has a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from India and a Masters in Environmental Engineering from USA.