MTN Ghana Is a Telecommunications Company Marketing Strategy

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Company Overview

MTN Ghana is a telecommunications company operating in Ghana and a subsidiary company of MTN Group. Being established in 1994, MTN Ghana has evolved into the country’s largest telecom company, with a 55% market share of mobile voice subscriptions and a 53% market share of the total SMS count (National Communications Authority, 2019). The company provides telecommunications services, such as postpaid and prepaid mobile airtime, Internet access, short message services, mobile banking, and various data solutions. The company’s vision is “the delivery of bold, new Digital World to our customers” (MTN Ghana, no date, para. 1). MTN Ghana (no date, para. 2) defines its mission as “to make our customers’ lives a whole lot brighter.” The company is guided by the philosophy that everybody deserves to enjoy the benefits of a connected life (MTN Group, 2019). Therefore, it aims at providing its services to as many customers as possible.

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Marketing Mix

7 P’s

A marketing mix helps marketers identify factors that influence the marketing of their products and services and, therefore, should be controlled. According to the 7 P’s model, these factors include product, price, promotion, place, people, the process of service provision, and physical environment (Khorsheed et al., 2020). The core product that MTN Ghana offers its customers is the ability to connect with other people and store and share data. The company meets this need by providing mobile airtime and Internet access to both consumers and businesses and offering hosting solutions and value-added services to businesses. The prices charged by MTN Ghana are not the lowest in the country. The company offers different tariff plans and bundles and charges a premium price on its toll-free services for businesses. MTN Ghana has a limited choice of prices because the authorities have set the price floor and ceiling for telecom services to increase competition and reduce MTN Ghana’s market share (Paul, 2020). MTN Ghana uses different promotion methods, such as print advertising, outdoor advertising, and commercials on TV and the Internet. It also communicates with its customers on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The place in the marketing mix includes all the ways the companies make their goods and services available to customers. Customers can purchase MTN Ghana’s SIM cards in the company’s stores or dial special numbers to start or continue using the company’s services. In contrast to two of its competitors, Glo and AirtelTigo, MTN Ghana offers its customers 3G coverage in all regions of the country (National Communications Authority, 2020b). Regarding people, MTN Ghana invests in employee training and, consequently, has a skilled, engaged labor force that provides efficient services and demonstrates the knowledge and competencies necessary to fulfill their responsibilities (MTN Group Limited, 2017). MTN Ghana’s process of providing services includes the effective use of modern technology. The company allows customers to purchase services online via its website and through dialing MTN Ghana’s call center or special shortcodes. MTN Ghana’s physical environment seems to attract customers; its offices have a similar design containing yellow, white, and black furniture. All offices have the company’s logo to make it easy for customers to find them. MTN Ghana’s employees wear yellow T-shirts or shirts with the company’s logo.

4 C’s

Another model of the marketing mix is the 4 C’s model. It comprises such elements as customer value, cost, convenience, and communication (Babaei, Mostakhdemi and Esmaili, 2017). Customer value means customers’ needs that the company attempts to satisfy with its products or services (Babaei, Mostakhdemi and Esmaili, 2017). Cost for customers includes not only price but also energy, time, resale costs, and mental costs (Babaei, Mostakhdemi and Esmaili, 2017). Convenience refers to the ease of acquiring products or services and includes shopping time, access hours, location, and information search (Babaei, Mostakhdemi and Esmaili, 2017). Communication implies the two-way flow between the company and its clients.

The customer value provided by MTN Ghana’s services is the ability to keep in touch with friends and relatives and operate data with the help of the Internet. The cost for customers includes the prices of MTN Ghana’s services and the time and energy spent on subscribing to services and renewing subscriptions. Convenience includes the ability to easily find information about tariffs on the company’s website and subscribe to services in various ways, such as retail shops, website purchases, call centers, and shortcodes. Finally, MTN Ghana communicates with its customers in social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, where it receives customers’ feedback and addresses their concerns and complaints.

MTN Ghana should better customize its services, which is a best practice in service marketing because it adds value to customers (Khorsheed et al., 2020). Furthermore, the company may offer its customers advice and training on how to use their services, as well as exceptional guarantees (Babaei, Mostakhdemi and Esmaili, 2017). MTN Ghana should also constantly ensure that customers receive additional value for using its services for the price it charges.

Differentiation and Competitive Advantage

To reach sustainable success in the market, any firm should develop its competitive advantage. According to Porter’s generic strategies, a competitive advantage can be achieved through lower cost or differentiation, which may be combined with a broad or narrow scope of the company’s activities (Hatsu, Mabeifam and Paitoo, 2016). MTN Ghana’s generic strategy is differentiation because it aims to provide additional value to its customers by offering them special tariffs and bundles and different business solutions.

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The company’s competitive advantage is the high quality of service, as evidenced by the National Communications Authority’s (2020b) quality of service tests. MTN Ghana’s quality of service has slightly decreased by the end of 2020. It is evident from the quality of service test results, showing that, in the first quarter of 2020, MTN Ghana passed the 3G data test measuring average data throughput; however, in the third quarter of 2020, it failed this test in more than ten districts (National Communications Authority, 2020a; National Communications Authority, 2020b). Despite this decline, MTN Ghana’s quality is still better than that of Glo and AirtelTigo and is comparable to that of Vodafone (National Communications Authority, 2020b). Another competitive advantage of MTN Ghana is its strong brand image and the largest market share in Ghana’s telecommunications market, which creates a barrier to entry for new competitors.

Telecommunications companies can gain an additional competitive advantage if they are more involved in infrastructure sharing with their competitors (Hatsu, Mabeifam and Paitoo, 2016). Infrastructure sharing is especially beneficial in the rural areas of African countries where a lack of infrastructure leads to the need for high investments, but customers have low incomes and require lower prices (BSR, 2017). Furthermore, as Kyei and Bayoh (2017) point out, innovations in the field of process, marketing, and service can also be a source of competitive advantage since they enhance customer retention. Thus, MTN Ghana can strengthen its competitive advantage through infrastructure sharing and innovation.

Commoditization and Total Product and Solution Offering

Commoditization occurs when the differences between products and services offered by competing companies become indistinguishable. As a result, customers believe all manufacturers and service providers to be the same and, therefore, are unwilling to explore new options and make choices based solely on price (Holmes, 2016). The telecommunications industry is highly subject to commoditization because every innovative technology in this field is quickly adopted by competing companies and becomes a commodity (Holmes, 2016). MTN Ghana successfully copes with commoditization because it operates in a developing country where some of its competitors still do not have access to the developed infrastructure. As National Communications Authority (2020b) reports, MTN Ghana’s competitors, Glo and AirtelTigo, do not provide 3G coverage in many regions. Therefore, MTN Ghana’s network infrastructure and innovative technologies help it cope with commoditization. According to Groene (2017), to avoid commoditization, telecommunications companies should improve customer experience through new technologies and extended offerings, such as apps, connected devices, or digital content. Therefore, MTN Ghana could expand its product portfolio by new network services and adopt new technologies ahead of its competitors.

Total product and solution offering comprises all tangible and intangible qualities of a product or service (Nawaz, 2018). In MTN Ghana, total product and solution offering includes mobile airtime and various amounts of gigabytes of Internet data. For business customers, the company offers different connectivity solutions and cloud and hosting solutions. MTN Ghana also provides its customers with a service called MTN MoMo, which allows customers to pay and transfer money with their mobile phones. Apart from the actual services, the company’s total product and solution offering includes a strong brand image, different payment options (prepaid and postpaid services), and customer support available in person and via phone or e-mail.

Segmentation

Segmentation means dividing the target population into homogenous groups with the purpose of identifying their specific needs (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). MTN Ghana divides its target market into three segments: consumer, enterprise, and wholesale (MTN Group Limited, 2017). The segments differ in services that the company offers to them. MTN Ghana offers voice subscriptions, mobile data, and digital services to consumers, voice subscriptions, data and information and communications technologies to enterprises, and international voice and roaming services to the wholesale segment (MTN Group Limited, 2017). Although the company seems to target mainly young and middle-aged people, as evidenced by its promotional materials, it does not segment its consumers into psychographic segments. Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah (2020) emphasize that telecommunications companies should segment their customers to ensure precise targeting and enhance customer retention and loyalty. Therefore, MTN Ghana should divide its customers not only into individuals and enterprises but also according to their demographic or behavioral characteristics.

Branding

Branding means a set of activities designed to communicate a message about the price, quality, status, and performance of the company’s products or services to customers (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). Successful branding is a source of a sustainable competitive advantage that helps companies achieve profitability and excellent market performance (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). In MTN Ghana, branding plays an important role in achieving competitive advantage. The company’s brand positioning is formulated as “BRIGHTer LIVES,” where the word “bright” is an acronym formed from the company’s values (MTN Group Limited, 2017, p. 43). These values are as follows: “Best customer experience,” “Returns and efficiency focus,” “Ignite commercial performance,” “Growth through data and digital,” “Hearts and minds,” and “Technology excellence” (MTN Group Limited, 2017, p. 6-7). The company describes its brand personality as “exciting, fun, bold, and optimistic” (MTN Group Limited, 2017, p. 43). Moreover, MTH Ghana has developed its distinctive greeting, Y’ello, and uses it in social media (MTN Group Limited, 2017). The company’s logo and the yellow color are also distinctive of MTN Ghana’s brand.

Overall, MTN Ghana successfully manages its brand. As Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah (2020) point out, branding provides the company with a long-term competitive advantage, as opposed to sales promotion, which is aimed at a short-term increase in sales. Furthermore, telecommunications companies should pay attention to outlet branding if they use retailers’ services to sell their products and services (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). Therefore, MTN Ghana should maintain its branding strategy and apply it to its retail outlets.

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Managing the Service Element

In telecommunications companies, the service element includes not only the core services offered but also after-sales services, i.e., supplementary services provided to customers (Nawaz, 2018). In MTN Ghana, the service element includes customer support and customer service. The provision of excellent customer service is one of the company’s priority areas, along with affordable pricing (MTN Group Limited, 2017). MTN Ghana’s customers are satisfied with the company’s customer support (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). However, customer interactions at the point of sale are considered a hindrance to customer satisfaction (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah (2020) recommend that MTN Ghana improve its customer service by ensuring that service encounters are friendly and aimed at building strong relationships with customers.

Experiential Marketing, Customer Relations, and Experience Management

Experiential marketing and experience management are essential for improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. Imbug, Ambad, and Bujang (2018, p. 105) define customer experience as “a set of interaction that happened between the customer and a product, which will evoke the emotion or provoke the action or reaction.” MTN Ghana’s customer experience management is directed toward meeting customers’ needs and eliminating their negative experiences related to the company’s services. The company has taken action to prevent its customers from subscribing to undesired services involuntarily and provided customers with a transparent view of services they have subscribed to (MTN Group Limited, 2018). Imbug, Ambad, and Bujang (2018) argue that, in the telecommunications industry, the quality of the core services has the greatest impact on customer experience. MTN Ghana pays attention to the reliability of its network to ensure that its customers use high-quality telecommunications services. As the study by Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah (2020) indicates, MTN Ghana is successful in providing its customers with high call quality; however, customer experience is less positive in terms of coverage and cost of calls.

MTN Ghana manages customer relations by communicating with its customers and learning their pain-points. In 2018, the company improved the measurement capabilities of its net promoter score to understand the needs of its customers better (MTN Group Limited, 2018). As mentioned earlier, the company also communicates with its customers in social networks where it addresses customers’ concerns and informs customers of the improvements in the company’s services.

Regarding experience management, MTN Ghana should improve its infrastructure to enhance the quality of its core services, which will positively affect customer experience. Imbug, Ambad, and Bujang (2018) state that the cost of services also influences customer satisfaction. Since MTN Ghana’s customers are not quite satisfied with the prices the company charges for its services, MTN Ghana should think of ways of reducing costs or providing its customers with a transparent charging procedure to justify its prices.

Role of Internet in Marketing

MTN Ghana actively uses the Internet in marketing its telecommunications services. The company has its website where it introduces customers to the available services. It has not been identified whether MTN Ghana uses search engine advertising to promote its services. Yet, the company is present in such social networks as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, the links to which can be found on the website. According to Amoako, Okpattah, and Arthur (2019), the use of social media in marketing allows companies to reach their target audience and provide immediate feedback to all concerned parties. Their study of MTN Ghana’s social media activity indicates that the company is actively engaged in communication with its customers, and customers respond to MTN Ghana’s social media activity (Amoako, Okpattah and Arthur, 2019). Researchers also found out that social media marketing efforts that result in customer engagement increase the company’s brand value (Amoako, Okpattah and Arthur, 2019). Therefore, MTN Ghana should continue to create content in social media, which encourages customers’ response.

Pricing and Cost Structure

Telecommunications companies use pricing strategies designed to meet their specific needs. First of all, they use two subscription types: prepaid and postpaid (Kar, 2019). Postpaid subscribers bring higher average revenue per user; however, prepaid subscribers are more numerous, and they usually include young people who readily adopt new services (Kar, 2019). MTN Ghana uses the Calling Party Pays (CPP) billing method. It also provides businesses with toll-free services, in which the Receiving Party Pays (RPP) billing method is used. According to Kar (2019), telecommunications companies may use the following pricing strategies: two-part pricing, flat-rate pricing, discount pricing, bundling pricing, skim pricing, penetration pricing, and cooperative pricing. Among them, MTN Ghana actively uses discount pricing and bundling pricing. MTN Ghana provides time-based discounts for customers using its services on Sundays. The company also provides bundles comprising various amounts of data, minutes of airtime, and SMS. In such price-sensitive regions as Ghana, companies should be careful in choosing their pricing strategies because customer satisfaction is determined by the fairness of pricing and service quality (Adusei and Tweneboah-Koduah, 2020). Therefore, MTN Ghana should continuously make sure that it charges fair prices.

The cost structure includes fixed and variable costs; variable costs change depending on the number of goods or services sold, and fixed costs do not depend on this amount. Mpwanya and Van Heerden (2016) argue that, in the telecommunications companies’ cost structure, handsets, network operations, and marketing play an important role (Mpwanya and Van Heerden, 2016). As evidenced by MTN Ghana’s financial statements, the company’s fixed costs, which include employee benefits expenses, depreciation, marketing expenses, and others, are about twice as much as its variable costs (Scancom Plc, 2018). It implies that the company successfully manages its costs, which allows it to charge fair prices and make profits.

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Stakeholders, Triple Bottom Line, and Sustainability

With an increased negative impact of human activity on the environment, businesses have begun to focus their efforts on sustainable development to prevent further deterioration. Martin and Schouten (2014, p. 11) define sustainability as “the opportunity for all people to maintain fulfilling, productive lives while preserving or replenishing the natural and economic systems that make their well-being possible.” Sustainability has three dimensions: environmental, social, and economic, which are interconnected with each other (Martin and Schouten, 2014). These three dimensions form the basis of the concept of the triple bottom line (TBL), in which they are translated into People, Planet, and Profit (Boafo and Kokuma, 2016). The concept of TBL emphasized that businesses need to consider not only the profit for their shareholders but also their responsibility to stakeholders, i.e., all people and entities that are influenced by business activities (Boafo and Kokuma, 2016). In the TBL, People means fair labor and business practices; Planet refers to preserving the environment; Profit means economic value generated by businesses.

MTN Ghana incorporates sustainability and the TBL into its business. To ensure its sustainable development, MTN Ghana established the MTN Foundation in 2007. The company reports having invested US$13.5 million in health, education, and economic empowerment projects since that time (Scancom Plc, 2018). MTN Ghana has taken part in 145 projects, 82 of which were related to education, 11 to economic empowerment, and 52 to health (Scancom Plc, 2018). One such project is the 21 Days Y’ello Care, which is designed to encourage the company’s employees to take part in community development activities (Boafo and Kokuma, 2016). The company also develops green initiatives to make sure it conserves energy and efficiently manages waste (Scancom Plc, 2018). One green initiative is the green office program, designed to identify opportunities to reduce consumption and waste and partner with stakeholders to extend the company’s waste conservation initiatives (MTN Group Limited, 2019). Overall, MTN Ghana pays much attention to make sure it achieves sustainable development in running its business.

On its way to sustainability and the TBL, MTN Ghana interacts with multiple stakeholders. The company ensures that its customers receive high-quality services at fair prices and can get the necessary help using its services. Furthermore, MTN Ghana makes sure its employees have the necessary benefits, work contracts, and training. The company influences the community by encouraging employees to participate in the development of the community and providing rural coverage and sponsorships. Other MTN Ghana’s stakeholders are investors, for whom it prepares financial statements to provide them with the necessary information. Finally, regarding regulatory authorities, MTN Ghana ensures the high quality of its services, handles customer complaints, sets tariffs, and complies with the regulations.

MTN Ghana is successful in implementing sustainability and the TBL in its business. This is despite the fact that, in Ghana, sustainable development is associated with certain difficulties related to inconsistencies in sustainable government policies (Domfeh, Ahenkan and Bawole, 2012). One recommendation to MTN Ghana is to include the cultural dimension in its sustainable development. Martin and Schouten (2014) argue that the TBL is often criticized for disregarding culture. Therefore, including cultural diversity in its sustainable marketing strategy may help MTN Ghana to provide additional value to its stakeholders.

Conclusion

This paper discussed how MTN Ghana applied various marketing concepts in its business. The company uses the marketing mix to develop and promote its services. For promotion, it uses such channels as print and outdoor advertising, commercials, and social networks. Its competitive advantage is the high quality of services and a strong brand image. MTN Ghana successfully manages the service element since its customers are mainly satisfied with the provided services and customer support. Finally, the company is focused on integrating sustainability and the TBL into its business.

Reference List

Adusei, C. and Tweneboah-Koduah, I. (2020) ‘Branding and retailing in the telecommunications industry of Ghana’, American Journal of Marketing Research, 6(1), pp. 9-18.

Amoako, G. K., Okpattah, B. K. and Arthur, E. (2019) ‘The impact of social media marketing on brand equity – a perspective of the telecommunication industry in Ghana’, Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, 13(3), pp. 113-122.

Babaei, M. R., Mostakhdemi, R. and Esmaili, S. (2017) ‘Identifying the effect of marketing 4 Cs on customer satisfaction of life insurance (case study: Pasargad Insurance Offices in Tehran)’, Agricultural Marketing and Commercialization Journal, 1(1), pp. 45-54.

Boafo, N. D. and Kokuma, D. A. (2016) ‘The impact of corporate social responsibility on organisational performance: a case study of Vodafone Ghana Limited’, European Journal of Business and Management, 8(22), pp. 46-57.

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Domfeh, K. A., Ahenkan, A. and Bawole, J. N. (2012) ‘Is sustainable development achievable in Ghana? An analysis of Ghana’s development policy achievements and challenges’, International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 11(3), pp. 304-317.

Groene, F. (2017) ‘Commoditization of the wireless industry: a tremendous challenge for carriers – and an opportunity?’, Forbes.

Hatsu, S., Mabeifam, U. M. and Paitoo, P. C. (2016) ‘Infrastructure sharing among Ghana’s mobile telecommunication networks: benefits and challenges’, American Journal of Networks and Communications, 5(2), pp. 35-45.

Holmes, A. (2016) Commoditization and the strategic response. New York: CRC Press.

Imbug, N., Ambad, S. N. A. and Bujang, I. (2018) ‘The influence of customer experience on customer loyalty in telecommunication industry’, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(3), pp. 103-116.

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Khorsheed, R. K. et al. (2020) ‘The role of services marketing mix 7P’s on achieving competitive advantages (the case of Paitaxt Technical Institute in Kurdistan region of Iraq)’, Test Engineering and Management, 83, pp. 15947-15971.

Kyei, D. A. and Bayoh, A. T. M. (2017) ‘Innovation and customer retention in the Ghanaian telecommunication industry’, International Journal of Innovation, 5(2), pp. 171-183.

Martin, D. and Schouten, J. (2014) Sustainable marketing. Harlow: Pearson.

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Paul, E. (2020) ‘Ghana wants to break MTN’s market dominance, but will its new policies suffice?’, Techpoint.Africa.

Scancom Plc (2018) 2018 annual report.

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