Vodafone Idea (Vi) has been losing out on subscribers every month since October 2019. In March, Vi investors found temporary relief when the Trai report said the company added 1.7 million customers in January 2021.
But Vi clarified that it had made ‘inadvertent errors’ while submitting the numbers to the regulator. From the correct numbers, it was found that instead of adding subscribers, Vi lost 2.3 million of them.
What’s interesting here is that Vi is offering the most unique prepaid offers in the industry. The telco has launched offers that make its prepaid plans literally ‘Gold’ in terms of benefits. Offers such as ‘Binge all Night’ and ‘Weekend Data Rollover’ on top of bonus data with most of its prepaid plans make the telco’s offerings very attractive.
Despite all this, it is still behind Jio and Airtel, but why?
Vi Behind Jio and Airtel, But Why
Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are the two top operators of India. In third place stands Vodafone Idea. Vi has a strong spectrum portfolio, so strong that it didn’t really need to purchase a lot of airwaves in the recently held auctions.
The telco is even upgrading its 4G capacity by refarming the 3G spectrum in a phased manner across India. It means that Vi users will get an even better 4G internet and calling experience regardless of their location.
It provides prepaid offers that neither Jio nor Airtel does, yet it is behind both the telcos. Overall, the telco has good plans, a good network, and an established brand, yet it has been continuously losing subscribers only.
Why is it Happening?
The first and the most obvious reason is slightly cheaper offerings from Jio and Airtel. We are not saying Vi’s prepaid offers are not ‘just’ or ‘fair’ for their price. While they are just fine, no one can deny that they are still a ‘little’ expensive than Jio’s and Airtel’s offerings.
The telco’s network reach is good, but it is not as good as Jio’s. Jio is targeting rural India, where not just Vi but Airtel lags as well.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. While the above-mentioned reasons are ‘contributing factors’ to Vi losing out on subscribers, no one really likes to talk about the prime reason why Vi is falling behind the other private operators.
It is Vi’s reducing brand image.
Vi’s Falling Brand Image
Vodafone and Idea merged to form ‘Vodafone Idea Limited’, now ‘Vi’. Subconsciously, that sets a negative image for the company in the minds of the users. It becomes very easy to think that Vodafone and Idea had to merge because they just weren’t good enough.
After the merger, things didn’t rapidly change for the telco. Even though it saw a positive curve in its subscriber addition for a brief period, it has been struggling financially for way too long.
That’s what motivated Vi to come out with industry-unique offers. It wanted to gain a larger market share to increase its revenues. But even that might have worked against the company. Indians could see the desperate nature of Vi to survive from the offers it rolled out.
But here’s the good thing for Vi.
India is a massive market, and a huge part of it is still in the 2G era. But they will soon look to upgrade to 4G. All that Vi has to do is figure out a way to attract this set of subscribers.
Even though users appreciate the unique offers from Vi, a lot of them don’t really need that. Users are content with the kind of benefits they get from Airtel and Jio for a lesser price.