Voice SMS in India

Selling a Concept...Voice SMS

The concept of Voice SMS has not taken off in India. There is a lack of awareness regarding Voice SMS and how to go about using it. Further when call rates are so cheap and the Indian user is comfortable sending text messages, where is the context for sending Voice SMS?

There can be three broad contexts for sending a Voice SMS over a text SMS:

1. The first is for those who are not comfortable in typing out text messages. People like the elderly would come into focus here. Also people who are constrained by the English language key pad and would be far more comfortable in sending messages in their local languages. This has not been exploited by marketers till now.

2. The second context which Airtel tries to exploit is about adding “emotion to messages”. The campaign which Airtel come out with showed Saif recording a Voice SMS for Kareena who is upset with him. The “emotions” conveyed by Saif when he says "I miss you so much, it hurts", would not have come out so well in a normal text SMS.

3. The third context which Vodafone is using is based on a research which talks about the urban market using such a product for sending fun messages to people close to them. One Zoo Zoo records a Voice SMS and sends it to another Zoo Zoo who can not control his laughter when he hears it.

It is very interesting that both Airtel and Vodafone use a story to illustrate the possible usage contexts for a novel concept like the Voice SMS. Airtel talks about adding emotion to messages and Vodafone about sending fun messages. A story helps in understanding and grasping of a new concept by the target audience. I am not sure about the success of Voice SMS in a country addicted to Text SMS but I really like the way both Airtel and Vodafone are pitching Voice SMS through campaigns targeted at the youth. Their target segment for the service is same but the value propositions different. One is talking about adding emotion to messages and the other about sending fun messages.


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