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News Analysis

Telco challenger brand Amaysim's CMO: 'We'll remain led by marketing, not COVID'

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

20 May 2020 3min read

Amaysim CMO Renee Garner says while it may not be sexy being an essential service, supporting customers and "actually" giving back as never been more crucial.

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

20 May 2020 3min read

"No frills" telco Amaysim and its CMO Renee Garner are remaining committed to its always-on brand building strategy, despite the trend to pull and push advertising in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite pausing a major campaign, the challenger brand has looked to online video and social media strategies to remain contextually relevant while also maintaining its acquisition marketing.

What you need to know:

  • Amaysim CMO Renee Garner says being a "no frills" brand during COVID-19 has given the brand greater focus on its original marketing strategy.
  • The telco paused its major brand campaign for 2020 to avoid pushing a "hard sell", but has managed to maintain its marketing spend.
  • This has included further investment in social platforms, performance media, online video and content marketing strategies
  • Over the February and March period Amaysim saw a huge spike in data usage and content streaming as customers transitioned into working and learning from home
  • Data usage was up 30% and 36% respectively on previous months, and content streaming saw a 196% increase year-on-year.
  • Due to this, the brand has been upping its investment in promotional marketing, offering new and existing clients larger data packages.
  • Retail sales data has also indicated a decline in "leisure sales" as browsing has been limited in stores such as Kmart and Target due to mall closures and restrictions

 

It might not be sexy...

Only a few weeks ago challenger brand telco Amaysim, which offers no-lock in contract sim-only mobile plans, was facing crisis as the possibility of a complete lockdown loomed.

As more retailers were shuttered and casual store browsing was put on hold, CMO Renee Garner and her team began evaluating their marketing spend in preparation.

However, in what she describes as a "fortunate element" of a bad situation, the country never hit full lockdown and even though stores such as Target and Kmart yielded lower retail sales, the ability to still shop casually in the like of Woolworths, Coles and 7-Eleven bouyed acquisitions.

Garner says retail has only been one side of the story, with e-commerce sales growth in line with the rest of the nation's brands, at double digits, and search "going crazy".

"In a full lockdown world it would have really impacted our financial outcome for the year and we would have had to balance that by reducing our operating expense, with marketing being an obvious one, to reach our EBITA target as we are an ASX company," Garner says.

"We we're really fortunate and set up our marketing, planning, performance and media spend in a way that was very flexible and began reassessing this frequently from the end of February, which put us in a better position once the pandemic took full effect."

With telecommunications falling under the umbrella of and essential service and with many people trapped at home using up significant amounts of data or overloading their routers, the Amaysim offering has never been "more contextually relevant".

"It might not be sexy to be and essential service like us, however, with so many people in difficult economic situations and mobile data becoming such a big part of people's day-to-day lives, both professionally and personally, our proposition has suited that conversation," Garner says."We still have to be sensitive to people and how they are feeling of course and that's why we pulled our major brand campaign for this year, which we felt leaned too heavily on a 'hard sell' acquisition strategy."

 

'Actually' giving back

As a result of pausing its major brand activity which would have gone out across more traditional media, Amaysim upped spend in social, online video and content marketing.

This week the brand launched the main element of the strategy, a social and online video paid partnership campaign with youth publisher Vice, called "At home with Amaysim".

Streaming twice a week, for four weeks, At Home with Amaysim hosts Donny Benét and Kymie will guide viewers through a series of segments ensuring they emerge from isolation with a few new skills, whilst providing much-needed comic relief and entertainment.

Garner says an old school variety show was the best way to serve consumers from a content perspective while also supporting the arts and hospitality industries which are suffering due to the Coronavirus restrictions.

She says whether it has been data promotions, lower-cost plans, content or easily accessible product information, Amaysim's core focus has been on providing something tangible for customers, rather than messages of support.

"Right now people are battling more than ever and access to necessities is crucial. Our brand message has always been the same and will remain that way throughout this crisis - accessible product, no hidden fees from a brand that's not looking to rip you off," Garner says.

"Even though that is something people can connect with more now, as a brand you still have to be giving more and that's why we've opted for a free content series that supports more than just our own business and I think good marketers are beginning to see that. It's key to remain focused on a good marketing strategy and not be led by or react to what's happening next with COVID."

Last week, fellow telco CMO Melissa Hopkins was critical of the recent digital marketing strategy by brands during the COVID-19 crisis, pointing it out as an example of where marketers have been lazy by "spamming and spraying" consumers with daily messages of support.

She says there have been countless examples where brands have likely lost subscribers due to constant, sometimes daily messages of support.

"The biggest challenge when it comes to data and personalization is that we are not respecting people when we are spraying and preying on them with digital and comms. COVID is the best example of that, with customers being spammed by businesses telling them how they are going to support consumers through this," Hopkins says.

"The company in Australia that provides my bedding, I really don’t want them spamming me every day about how much they care. That is brands taking data and using it the wrong way. It’s not about people hacking in, it’s about marketers being irresponsible with their relationship."

Martin Brown, Nestlé's director of e-business, strategy and marketing previously said on a webinar with the AANA, discussing a similar topic, that it was surprising how some of industry still needed to be reminded of marketing fundamentals. 

 

The rise of the 'value shopper'

One change in consumer behaviour that Garner has observed prior to the pandemic, which she believes will only be heightened as purse strings tighten, is the rise of what she calls the "value shopper".

She says in the past, looking for the cheaper option was previously looked down on and associated with lower socio-economic households. Now she points to people like "proud Aldi shoppers" or people scooping fashion on sale as a new norm.

With the full economic fallout of COVID-19 yet to be felt, with subsidies like Jobkeeper and Jobseeker still available, Garner believes the value shopper will only become more common and that's where Amaysim will be able to grow its subscriber base. 

"While we aren't a business that has a high service, 24/7 call centre or online chat, we offer simplicity and value over the premium brand positioning and people are going to begin seeing that as a very real alternative," Garner says.

"Amaysim can still look after its consumers and market itself as there for subscribers but through showing them an alternative to the other major telco brands. They will continue to compete off the back of one another's lowest rates or best bundles, whereas we can appeal to the consumer sentiment of something as simple as 'that's a really good deal and has exactly what I want'."

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By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

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