A highly aggressive stride on pricing and considerably enhanced focus on the data segment have been trademarks of MTS in its entry in India. CEO Vsevolod Rozanov reveals the company’s outlook for the brand in India to Vareen Ray and Surbhi Chawla of 4Ps B&M
MTS might be one of the newer players to kick off operations in India but on the global scale it’s the eight largest telecom brand in the world and was ranked at 72nd spot amongst the Top 100 Brands in the world, according to Millward Brown. Recently 4Ps B&M caught up with Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd. (SSTL) CEO Vsevolod Rozanov to know more about his plans for the company and attempt to discover his lighter side. Some edited excerpts from the interview.

4Ps B&M: You have always offered a lot of aggressive pricing schemes and promotional packs. So what’s your main objective behind the same?
VR: Through our special schemes, we hope to enrich our consumers’ experience and want more and more customers to experience our offering and get associated with the brand.

4Ps B&M: Do you think the current pricing levels are sustainable for a short to midterm period and in this kind of pricing regime, by when do you see SSTL will be able to breakeven?
VR: We have a lot of trust in our offering and our network. As you may be aware, we are the only ones that are able to offer calls as cheap as half paise per second and we also see that the tariff can fall slightly more in the short term horizon. As far as breaking even is concerned we had even earlier mentioned that our target to do so is by 2013 and we are committed to the same.

4Ps B&M: What do you think of the competition in the telecom sphere and do you think that there could be more players jumping onto the data bandwagon now after the 3G auctions?
VR: The market is already competitive, with about three other players offering products in the same category. We don’t expect more than 1-2 more competitors on the CDMA side, so it is unlikely that competition will increase much further. We have a strong data brand, and the market has a very small number of Internet connections, and we also see the addition of new players as a positive thing since this will only further expand the market.

4Ps B&M: Do you have plans to come out with an IPO?
VR: Yes that’s something that we might eventually do but not right away. Right now as you may know, there’s a deal in progress with the Russian government and we expect this deal to be closed by the end of Q3 or early Q4.
4Ps B&M: Which are the major customer segments that you are trying to tap with your MBlaze offering? Are you particularly concentrating on the youth of the country?
VR: Well everyone and not just us, is trying to focus on the youth. Of course, most of the people that one tries to cover through advertising for internet products are active users, which in this case are majorly the youth. So it’s not by default we want to put any caps on a segment but the trends are such. Also our two CDMA counterparts have grabbed in a sizeable share of the customers and we on our part are looking at customers who are newcomers to this market and most of these customers quite often are from the younger generation. To reach out more effectively to these customers, we also run some BTL and promotions with partners that seek to offer discounts to the customers, who are buying a new netbook or a notebook. We have tie ups with a lot of manufacturers, be it HCL or HP; and we are quite open to more in the future.

4Ps B&M: And what is your focus with respect to the voice segment?
VR: Well, for voice, the target market is quite different. What we are really targeting through our voice offering are primarily value seekers and they could be any one. In the dipstick survey that we had carried out, we found the acceptance of the brand in different circles is by different set of circles. In some of the circles, it’s more popular amongst the youth, and in others, it’s SMEs; and for other circles, it could be blue collared employees; and each of these customers have a very different usage pattern, which at times even surprises us.

4Ps B&M: You have decided to foray into the smartphone market; so what more can we expect from MTS?
VR: Well, you can expect something new from us and very different. We would be looking at a wide range of handsets at different price points. And the roll out should start happening by the end of July.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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