Monday, February 22, 2010

Stroke of Strategy

One of the recent masterpieces of a strategy implementation can be found in the Direct to Home (DTH) market in India.

There have been a lot of instances where technology was "lifted" from the west and implemented in developing countries like India. Some of the examples have been straight forward like - cellular technology (both GSM and CDMA) and large format shopping stores and supermarkets, while some have undergone an adaptive transformation to suit the Indian palette - for example the localization of the Mc Donalds franchise with a Happy Price menu. (Though I admit, it took some time for Mc Donalds to figure out this winning strategy).

Coming back to the domain of DTH, there was a fair amount of controversy with the launch of this service in India. The local cable operators almost took up arms to destabilize the launches, government officials being iffy about the format. There was obvious support from the channels as they could finally have transparency in viewership figures. My post however does not deal with these strategic issues as they affect the DTH industry as a whole.

The first DTH service was launched by the TATA group, in association with the Star group as Tata Sky. This was a phenomenal development and the customers started warming up to this idea. The point to note is that when the market developed enough, then the other competitors stepped in, notably - Dish TV, Big TV, Airtel. I personally think that some one who can judge the experience of the various services, Tata Sky stands out way above others. But the point is that people had options and there was no real reason to choose Tata Sky over others.

Have you wondered why do soap companies keep adding one thing or the other to their products and re-releasing their product constantly? Why is it that your shampoo bottle is in a constant run to get facelifts and present a more slick and appealing outlook every season ? Differentiation.

So again coming back..what was it that Tata SKY could now do to counter the plethora of service providers crowding the market? And bang - we have Tata SKY Plus. Not only do you get dvd quality reception, you can record it now as well! This is great strategy in play.

At the time of launch, TATA had the option of launching Tata Sky Plus right away, instead it decided to leverage the novelty of DTH first and then sweep the market with PLUS. This is because it anticipated that the world will copy and follow its first approach and it would NEED to have a second "brahmastra" to regain the market. Till date, no one has been able to counter this service with a similar offering but it will be interesting to watch the TATAs counter copycat moves!!!