AIS in Thailand makes a clever move with Chat SIM

At the beggining of this month we organized a customer event in Singapore and  received a great marketing lesson from our Thai customer AIS.

Nine months ago, AIS launched a new service called Chat SIM, conceived for  “Tweens” and “Teens” segment. Personally I didn’t know this term used for under 12s but if you have a kid at home around that age you will know how keen they are on chatting on the web. But doing the same thing on the mobile won’t come cheap as they need to have an expensive data subscription or  smartphone. Even in 2009 40% of U.S. 13-17 year olds were using mobile chat apps (source Nielsen) and the figure has risen since then so we can see the popularity of IM in this age group. Through our deployments in many countries including Morocco & Argentina we can see that this phenomenom is global.

AIS found in Chat SIM the solution to address this problem with an application that works on any phone as it uses the SMS channel. All AIS had to do was to choose an IM  provider but that wasn’t a difficult one to make. With over 17 million users in Thailand, Microsoft Windows Live seemed to be the obvious choice.

When it comes to pricing AIS  has gone for a model with unlimited connection for a week. The price of this pass has been carefully defined, slightly more expensive than a simple SMS package but below the average weekly limit that these teens normally have.

The main distribution channel for the service has been the 7/11 chain which has several thousand shops across the country. A Transformers-inspired TV advertising campaign shows how any phone can be turned into a feature phone with chatting functionalities.

The results 9 months later show a very healthy baby. Youngsters have gone crazy with the offer and starting to use their Windows Live Instant Messaging on their unsophisticated phones. The service uptake doesn’t stop growing and 50% of users coming from the competition.  There has been a v2 of ChatSIM which integrates a better user interface and comes with a 1 week offer.

You might be thinking that this will reduce the SMS traffic but AIS has already thought about that. For them, it was a key priority to capture this  SMS-based IM market because it has great potential. The loss caused by a possible decrease of the revenue has been more than compensated by sales figures brought by the ChatSIM pass as well as the acquisition of new customers  directly won over from the competition.

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