How Reliance Jio pulled off a brilliant marketing launch

Except for announcing charges and commercial plans, Reliance Jio is almost fully launched now (it’s completely free for next 3 months). Lot of things done brilliantly here — Limited rollout created excitement, similar to how Xiaomi originally innovated with Mi phone restricted sales launches on Flipkart.

By initially bundling SIMs only with purchase of LYF phones, then on limited OEM handsets, and now open to all if you’ve a 4G handset (even there — they’re limiting it to limited SIM sales per day, say 800–1000 SIMs, per Reliance digital store and Xpress mini stores), the rollout has been kept staggered to keep the buzz ongoing. Also by tying up Jio’s own app downloads to unlocking full benefits — which are Free SIM and unlimited Data, Calling and SMSes for 3 months, people are willing to jump through a lot of hoops. While the overall experience still has lot of things to be desired for now (You can’t do calls or messaging easily if you don’t have a VoLTE supported handset), the fact that it’s free for 3 months, with no limits, probably makes people accept the flaws (for now).

Top Free Apps chart in India on Google Play, as of 26 Aug; Out of the top 21 apps, 11 apps are by Jio.

In a first, a Telco app is number 1 in India on Google play (should be getting 300k upwards downloads daily for last 2–3 days to achieve this). Jio had already reached 1.5mn users around a week back as per news reports, and should be close to 2.5mn-3mn at this run rate. One can easily see them hitting 20–30mn users in a month or so. Compared to Airtel which sent 4G SIMs to people’s homes, this is brilliant rollout as far as marketing is concerned, as people are standing in queues and waiting for hours, just to get a SIM! (which doesn’t even support calling for most people :) )

We’ll probably know the true picture only 3 months from now, when the Free planshave ended. The Network quality, customer service, and overall experience has todeliver for Jio to sustain at 50% levels of current base — as most users might just befreeloading for now, just to get free data.

But overall, for next 3 months — all video, music services available in India should see some phenomenal uptake. What the VC money did to e-commerce and Ola/Ubers of the world, we’ll probably see something similar again but this time driven by Network, not VC funded discounts. When the constraints change, user behaviour also changes. Interesting times for Internet space in India indeed!


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