Digicel-LIME # Portability: Story Come to Bump?

LIME (OK, not LIME, but its antecedents) the lumbering monopolist, like the giant Goliath, was unprepared for the nimble challenger, Digicel. They didn’t have a clue. And when they were challenged in St. Vincent 13 years ago I recall LIME sending out a maxi-taxi across the island offering free phones and free credit to anyone who would sign up with them. The result? Long lines. People waited, collected their free LIME phones and when the credit expired they switched to Digicel. The joke was on LIME. That was then.

Fast forward to June 2015, Kingston, Jamaica. Number portability is finally a reality here. Two days later LIME announced that 500 persons had applied to switch to their network while only 50 applied to switch to Digicel. That’s a 10:1 ratio! Who cares if the data is accurate. First round to LIME. But Digicel, having none of that, responds immediately with tantalising freeness. Just what Jamaicans love! Free smart phones. And much free credit to anyone that switches to their network. Who wouldn’t want that. Its all free! But there’s a catch. It’s a limited 2-day offer. By Saturday the papers carry pictures of long lines of people waiting for their free Digicel phones with free credit. And why not? Round two to Digicel! Bragging gets louder!

Aaaaahhhh! But could there be an unknown factor in the equation? What if we factor in a whole new generation that never experienced LIME’s monopolist tyranny and are motivated by perceived value, not brand loyalty. You already know that consumer behaviour is not a precise science, but what do you think that market segment is likely to do having received free smart phones and free credit from Digicel? Suddenly become loyal Digicel customers? Who knows? So is the joke still on LIME? Who cares?

Come to think of it: will LIME offer me a new iPhone if I switch to them? Think I would refuse considering that they have better expected and augmented product offerings? As Uncle Feddy would say, “Story come to bump!” Hehehehehe.

Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management. Connect the dots…and call us instead of looking outside the region for world-class sales and marketing education, consulting and training.

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