As Wateen rebrands its visual identity, Marylou Andrew talks to Sohaib Sheikh, Head of Marketing, Wateen Telecom about what this will mean for the company, its customers and
’s larger broadband market. Pakistan
MARYLOU ANDREW: Why did Wateen decide to rebrand?
SOHAIB SHEIKH: When I joined Wateen about a year and a half ago, the foremost concern was that there were lots of negative associations with the brand, and customers had a lot of issues with us. The brand did not fulfill its promises and the tagline – We Connect – was very functional. Research also suggested that customers were not aware of Wateen’s entire product portfolio; we were perceived as a company that just sells internet and our customers did not really know how we are enabling
’s digital needs. We felt that this was a challenge that could be translated into a huge opportunity. Pakistan
MLA: What do you want to communicate to customers?
SS: If you look at Wateen’s product line, we have data, voice telephony, multimedia (five in- house channels on a cable TV network) and enterprise solutions (LDI, optic fibre, Vsat, etc.). This makes us the largest ICT company in
and these products enable healthcare, media, telecom, banking and financial services. If you talk about ATM connectivity, we connect more than 60-70% of ATMs in Pakistan . On the WiMax side, we launched in 22 cities four years ago and it was one of the largest WiMax rollouts in the world. The technology was new then but now we need to improve on our service delivery and manage people’s expectations. We also need to take these portfolios and tell our customers what we have. Pakistan
MLA: How are you planning to do this because you can’t achieve this with a few press ads?
SS: It starts with organisational change; the rebranding doesn’t mean only a change in visual identity, it also means a change in how we approach our business. We have new management, a new CEO (Naeem Zamindar) and new people on the board. Our focus is on creating a new Wateen, which is innovative, responsive and responsible. The rebranding meant that we had to move on from past mistakes; the vision is simple: to lead
’s digital revolution. Within the organisation we have a new customer care head and we also have a chief transformation officer (CTO). Most organisations have a HR head but our CTO is trying to transform the entire organisational mindset and make it more customer centric. When we talk about rebranding we are talking about going back to the market with new brand promises; we are focusing on Pakistan Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan and , and beefing up our network there because 75% of our users are currently in the metros. We are retraining our staff to be more efficient and effective when it comes to solving customer problems. We also plan to improve our operations at the franchise level. Gujranwala
MLA: Was the rebranding also necessary because new broadband brands have entered the market and it is that much more competitive?
SS: I always believe that competition makes the market grow and it leads to improved levels of service. It was a combination of factors that led to the rebranding: the service issues, the competition and the new management with its transformative vision.
MLA: What has happened in cosmetic terms?
SS: We have transformed from functional to emotional. We have revamped our corporate ID symbols and icons to announce that the new Wateen is different from before. Our main objective is to introduce Wateen as more than a WiMax operator and to promote it as a Pakistani organisation which truly believes in making a difference for people. There may be some teething problems, but we will take them in our stride and build a sustainable organisation. We have recently hired Adétudé as our new creative communications agency and Creative Chaos as our digital partner.
MLA: What is the state of
’s broadband market and what is Wateen’s current position? Pakistan
SS: The regulatory procedures have ensured that we have a level playing field and entry to market is friendly to foreign investors. The industry is still in the infancy stage; there are only 1.4 million broadband connections (wired and wireless included) and 3.5 million dial-up connections. Wateen holds 20% of the market share. If you talk about PC penetration, it is 15% (overall
). There are still plenty of underserved areas and we are bidding for those as well under the government initiative of Universal Services Fund. We have already done a lot of work in Pakistan Sargodha, Abbotabad and by giving free internet labs to educational institutions and teaching people how to use the internet. In Sialkot we started our campaign with 256MB but we were surprised to find that the demand there was for one MB, so there is obviously a lot of potential. Sargodha
MLA: What advantage does Wateen have over the new brands (Wit-tribe and Qubee) and PTCL?
SS: None of the new players have voice telephony. Wateen is the only WiMax operator that offers this service and the rates for international calls are very competitive. As far as PTCL is concerned, it undoubtedly has a favourable appeal to Pakistani consumers because we all grew up with it. Since PTCL used to have the biggest market share, the increased competition meant that its numbers would decrease, forcing it to become more lean and efficient. However, because it is a semi-government organisation, those changes are not easy to make. So for us the industry benchmark was clearly a red ocean and we want to look for bluer waters and set a new trend in the ICT industry.
MLA: Will future broadband growth be PC-based or will it come from mobile devices?
SS: All the devices will show growth. It is common for laptops to be WiFi enabled now but they will be WiMax enabled in the future. Samsung is already launching a WiMax enabled tab shortly. We have heard of 3G coming in but that involves the PTA. This will grow the market further; 3G will have its own share and we will have ours; it will not cannibalise our share.
First published in the November-December 2011 issue of Aurora.