With COVID-19 hitting Colombia’s economy hard, the country’s government took several measures in 2021 to put it back on track. One of these measures was to have three days during the year — October 28, November 19 and December 3 — when most products, including smartphones, could be sold without charging VAT (value-added tax). Earlier, the government had helped retail and online commerce by lifting lock-down restrictions and allowing stores to open for Christmas and Three Kings Day (Catholic holiday commemorating the visit of Three Wise Men to Baby Jesus). Here, we analyze how the country’s major mobile operators responded to these unique sales opportunities in terms of advertising presence (offline and online), bundles (especially focused on OEM partnerships) and inventory (offline and online availability of the products considering global shortages).
At the end of 2021, Claro had more than 10 million mobile subscribers, which is 56.46% of the total mobile subscribers in Colombia. Tigo was in second place with 3.5 million subscribers and an 18.45% share. Movistar came in third with 3.3 million subscribers and a 17.87% share.
Source: Counterpoint analysis. Source: Claro website.
The America Movil brand and the market leader launched a massive and catchy advertisement campaign which was all over the place, from TV to radio to social media. The Xiaomi Day, where all Xiaomi smartphones had significant discounts, was one example of how to induce sales during a season where gifts are a must. Claro missed the chance of having a perfect score due to device availability issues, like in the case of the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and similar models.
Source: Counterpoint analysis. Source: Clips from Movistar’s YouTube channel.
The Spanish telecom operator tied for second place with Tigo in our analysis. Movistar was found lagging on the bundling side of the analysis. Its advertisement strategy was straightforward — football is an integral part of the Colombian culture and supporting the national team can be considered patriotic. The creation of bundles has always been a weak point for the mobile operator. Whether this is the effect of a not so well-preserved relationship with OEMs is not clear. Finally, the inventory at Movistar was intact despite global shortages and reductions in shipments from most OEMs. Any device offered by this operator could be purchased either offline or online.
Source: Counterpoint analysis. Source: Tigo website
The Millicom brand was also in second place with Movistar in our analysis. In terms of advertisement presence, the brand lacked ideas and creativity. The strategy consisted merely of TV advertisements. However, it came out strong in bundling, perhaps its best approach for gaining market share during the holiday season. It joined forces with vivo to increase sales by offering the Y53s along with a vivo smart band for 1,259,900 COP (approximately $316 based on December 31 exchange rate). Finally, the brand saw better than expected performance on the inventory parameter. Every model was available offline while just a few of them were not available online, like the iPhone 11, 12 and 13 Pro Max, which consistently faced supply issues at almost all operators.
Finally, at Counterpoint, we will continue monitoring the performance of the mobile operators worldwide for delivering high-quality insights, among other topics from the telecom industry.