- Length: 1868 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Business Situation of Sunday
When Sunday was launched, the market was not favorable to it at all. Hong Kong was a very mature market. There were already six mobile phone operators who competed very fiercely in the small market. They provided different tariffs and services to customers. When the mobile number portability was introduced in March 1999, competition for subscribers became open to every player. Under this circumstance, Sunday entered the market successfully with an innovative approach to branding and promotion. It was positioned as a lifestyle brand and focused on brand building rather than pursuing to increase market share. Sunday became a standout brand with a high level of brand awareness, which led to its high ARPU and the high portion of locked-up subscribers.
With regards to customers, 86% of the population owns one or more mobile phone in Hong Kong. They were willing to spend money on their next mobile phone and pioneers or early adopters of the latest hi-tech gadgets. They are very open to new brands and technology. Also, they place more emphasis on handset appearance than customers in other Asian countries. In addition, more and more young people have become mobile phone owners. More than one fourth (29%) children between six to fifteen have a cellular phone, which is higher than the regional average of 12%. Consumers in Hong Kong are very informed decision makers, so brand and image become very important to them.
Sunday’s Communication Objectives
Despite its success, Sunday claimed a mere 9.8% of the market in 2000 and 8.3% in 2005. Although total number of subscribers continued to increase year to year, average revenue per user had been declining since 2001. Their aggressive branding strategies including eye-catching advertisements, alliance marketing and joint promotions were very effective in the first place, but they became stale and trite as many copycats followed. Therefore, Sunday should find the ways to keep their innovative, independent brand image as well as to increase market share and the number of subscribers, and to maintain lock-up subscribers.
Sources of Sunday’s brand equity and their importance
Brand equity is the added value a given brand name gives to a product beyond the functional benefits provided. For Sunday, several factors contributed to building its strong brand equity, such as the creativity and originality of the ads, the ability to break the taboos and make noises. Innovative, independent, and unconventional images helped to build Sunday as well.
In general, such added value has two distinct advantages. First, brand equity provides a competitive advantage. For example, The Sunkist brand implies quality fruit, and the Disney name defines children’s entertainment. Second advantage is that consumers are often willing to higher price for a product with brand equity. Brand equity, in this instance, is represented by the premium a consumer will pay for one brand over another when the functional benefits provided are identical. Brand equity also provides a financial advantage for the brand owner. Successful, established brand names have an economic value in the sense that they are intangible assets.
In order to exploit these advantages, Sunday should have long-run strategies to survive the competition. ‘Uniqueness’ should be the word which comes up when people think of Sunday since that’s the very idea when Sunday was introduced at first. So as to make consumers experience the uniqueness, it has to keep changing and innovating. It’s a daunting task but it will pay off in the long run. In addition, uniqueness means differentiation. Thus, Sunday has to be different in every aspect including service itself, not just in advertising and promotion.
Strength, Favorability and Uniqueness of Sunday’s brand associations
Sunday’s brand was built largely by the creative and unconventional advertisements which were beyond the imagination of the general public. Unlike their competitors at that time who heavily relied on popular celebrities, its ads were clearly eye-catching, very unique, fun, but somewhat grotesque. Sometimes they looked so disgusting as to provoke some backlashes, but they were very effective in making great impression to the audience and conveying what they intended. Thanks to the distinct approaches of the ads, Sunday could make people think it is different, but unfortunately in some negative ways. Sunday had a trade-off between the uniqueness and the favorability. In order to be unique Sunday gave up being favorable. In other words, the ads are quite wacky and bizarre, which could be translated as the uniqueness, but when people see the ads of Sunday they might dislike them. However, Sunday was successful in making people aware its brand in a rather short period as well as in emphasizing its peculiar attributes. At that time, some of rival firms didn’t even think their service might have a name or distinct image, so Sunday took advantage of this fact, so that it could get a specific brand image of being creative, innovative and intriguing. And that was the strength of Sunday.
Strategic intention of Sunday’s Ads & strategy evolution
It goes without saying that Sunday’s ads were creative and unconventional, breaking taboos and common senses. There are quite a few ads of Sunday which could be looked up for reference, and each ads spot has its own strategic intention.
Regarding the spots titled Tits and Farts, there was no single reference to a mobile phone nor was any words of services or tariffs. They were only focused on introducing brand and its personality. By showing an awkward scene (female breast) and an eccentric behavior (farting secretly), Sunday intended to attract people’s attention and make people know the brand itself.
With regards to the spots titled Sunday Surprise and Bunny, they were to highlight its brand attributes. What was to be conveyed was not only Sunday could give people ‘surprising’ gifts, but by using Sunday phones, people could be surprising ones themselves, that is, Sunday is surprising! In addition, Bunny gave the message that Sunday was the best with good quality but at even lowest price. What a good service Sunday is!
The spots titled International Roaming and MTR intended to build the brand positioning, which means they wanted to position Sunday as a lifestyle brand. With the international roaming service Sunday can connect people wherever they are. In particular, whenever people are in MTR trains and stations they can not but use Sunday, according to the ad. Thus, these spots were to make people think Sunday is a necessary appendage which helps people to improve the quality of their life.
Regarding the spots of Independence Day series, they were to convey Sunday’s independent brand image. The intended message was that by using Sunday people would be free from whatever is binding them.
Showing these spots mentioned above, Sunday, at first, tried building brand awareness. However, after achieving that purpose, Sunday had to emphasize its brand attributes of surprise and the better service at lower prices. Then, Sunday positioned its brand very effectively so that the target customers might be lured easily. After brand positioning was done, Sunday again tried to make clear brand image which was free and independent.
IMC Strategy for Sunday
Sunday entered the very competitive mobile phone market and succeeded in quickly obtaining high ARPU and locked-up subscribers with aggressive branding strategies. However, in 2004, Sunday’s net profit dropped by 78% to HK$ 6 million because of decrease in revenues and substantial investments in 3G. And finally, Sunday was acquired by PCCW in 2005. Also, the market has changed a lot since the launch of Sunday. In the market, there are tons of similar services, which make customers confused in differentiating and choosing among those services. Sunday’s wacky strategy was received with shock and excitement for some time but not any more, due to the me-too strategies of competitors. Integrated marketing strategies already became a new trend, which blend various types of media in an attempt to reach the customers who are sick and tired of conventional advertisements and images poured into indiscriminatively. One of rivals, CSL was quick to use a mix of some communication tools, so that they achieved high brand recognition among young consumers and remained as a trendsetter. Thus, Sunday should change itself and innovate its strategies. It has to adopt the integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy in more viable ways.
In order to develop the most appropriate IMC program to Sunday, the target audience should be defined or redefined at first. At the beginning, Sunday aimed to appeal to the people drawn to the creative and the new as well as the younger, more price-sensitive consumers. Now that Sunday has two different services such as 2G and 3G, the target for 3G can be different from that of 2G. Then, Sunday should identify its promotion objectives. Since they achieved the goal of increasing awareness, the objectives can be to increase its market share and locked-up subscribers.
The possible promotional mix for Sunday is using advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing such as emails or catalogs all together. Given the fact that Sunday’s services reached its maturity stage, advertisements must be used to maintain the existing users and to remind potential buyers of the existence of the brand. To satisfy its existing target audience, therefore, the ads should be more creative and distinct to the extent to be shocking or grotesque. Especially for the younger target, ads should convey the brand personality deeply involved with younger generation. For instance, they might be associated with more personal life rather than social or family life.
However, Sunday may choose ‘premium image’ for the new 3G service, which means Sunday would have different target segment for 3G. Its newly defined target would be people in 20’s who are willing to pay more for any better service and advanced functions. While improving the service quality, Sunday can run ads on premium magazines or in the VIP lounges at the airport, etc. Also, the ads should have the intention to provoke the desires for Sunday’s quality service of 3G in consumers’ minds.
Sales promotions can be used such as offering discounts or coupons to maintain loyal buyers. Sunday may provide big subsidies or membership benefits so that more potential buyers would be attracted. A special area such as ‘Sunday Zone’ could be created only for teens where the service is much cheaper than other places. On top of it, direct marketing can be used to educate consumers about the new service. Emails or catalogs that give more specific information on 3G could be sent to targeted people, with some discount coupons in them. Taking into consideration that Hong Kong customers are more likely to be early-adopters, Sunday might launch a joint and exclusive promotion with a handset maker who manufactures the most sophisticated gadgets. For example, consumers can use a certain state-of-the-art handset only with Sunday service loaded.
Future of Sunday
It seems that Sunday’s financial status has been worse than before and there is no clear sign of immediate improvement. However, if Sunday keeps their unique brand image for a long time by pursuing ever-changing communication strategies that reflect the latest trend, it can achieve the ultimate goal: being a number one mobile phone operator with the highest proportion of loyal subscribers.