Marketing Strategies of Airtel- Express Yourself

Airtel Success Story- Sab Kuch Try Karo, Fir Sahi Chuno

Company Name – Bharti Airtel
Founder – Sunil Bharti Mittal

Bharti Airtel Limited or what we commonly know as Airtel is an Indian global telecommunications services company. It is the 3rd largest mobile operator in the world with a subscriber base of over 400 million.


› How It All Started

Bharti Group was established by Sunil Mittal in 1976. After two consecutive meager successes in prior businesses (Manufacturing of bicycle parts and import of Generators) Sunil Mittal found his crowning success in the telecom sector.  India was using the bulky rotary dial phones with no speed dials or redials when they were first introduced to the push-button phones in 1984 by Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) and that’s how it was incorporated. They tied up with Siemens AG of Germany for the manufacture of electronic push button phones.

By the early 1990s, Mittal launched a string of instruments like the fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gears under the brand name Beetle.


› Launching

Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was incorporated on July 7, 1995. He launched Airtel under BCL.  In a period of few years, Airtel became the first telecom company to reach the count of 2 Million subscribers in India. Under the brand name IndiaOne, Airtel successfully bought down the high STD/ISD, cellular rates in the country. By June 2010, Mittal’s company had made the largest-ever acquisition by an Indian telecom firm, by acquiring the African business of Zain Telecom for $10.7 billion.

Airtel now is one of the largest mobile operator networks in the world in terms of subscribers and has a commercial presence in over 20 countries.

airtel challenge print ad

› Airtel’s marketing strategy and Interesting Reasons Behind its Success

Airtel follows a set of pre-defined values what they call as their ‘Air Culture’. Here ‘Air’ stands for – Alive, Inclusive and Respectful respectively.

  • Segmentation: Airtel has always believed in being customer centric. They have geographically segmented the market in East, West, North, South & central. They have also gone a step ahead and segmented the market in each region on the basis of demographic variables like age, Income, Social groups, etc. From the demographic data collected they run different campaigns as per the preferences of people in each region. Thus trying to increase their base volume.
  • Competitive advantage: Airtel has tried maintaining its cost leadership by reducing the operational costs and with the help of its unique business model – where their daily operations are outsourced and core functions like finance, sales, marketing, and management are retained. Their value added services such as the lifetime prepaid, Airtel live, Hello tunes, My Plans, M-check are pioneer strategies.
  • First-mover advantage: Bharti Airtel has been aggressively competing with Jio, the telecom arm of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). But Airtel did get the first-mover advantage as it was Airtel who was the first telecom player to have launched 4G services to the Indian crowd.  
  • Product distribution strategy: The strategy Company uses are the 2-Tier & 3-tier distribution network system.

Under the 2-tier distribution network, the company moves products from the manufacturer to wholesaler (Urban distributors), then from wholesaler to retailer (Rural Suppliers). UD distribute the items to retailers as per the demand & transfer the easy balance to the retailer through Field officer Sale’s SIM who work under UD’s.

Under 3-tier distribution network RS (rural suppliers) distributes the items to RD (Rural Distributors) & transfer easy balance into RD’s SIM, who then distributes it to the Retailers.


›  Airtel Campaigns

Airtel campaigns have always been very creative & innovative. They have done wonders for Airtel

In 2002 music composer AR Rahman composed the Signature tune for Airtel. It was one of the best pieces of work done on Airtel. The tagline for the ad being “Live Every Moment”.

In 2003 Airtel came out with a campaign tagged “Express yourself”. It was named the ‘World’s Best Communications Brand of the year 2004’ at the World Communication Awards 2004 in London.


In 2010 came “Endless Goodbye” which was also nominated as the best ad in Cannes Festival.

In 2012 came its Game changer campaign “Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai”. This campaign bought Airtel back to the limelight.

In 2015 we were introduced to the 4G Airtel Girl. This campaign was to announce the launch of its 4G network and how they challenged it to be the fastest as compared to other network providers. Their Tagline – “India’s First 4G Network”.  In 2016 they showed how Airtel 4G is not only fast but available in more parts of the country than one would think.


2018 – Airtel takes a fresh approach with a bold and direct theme – “Sab Kuch Try Karo, Fir Sahi Chuno” In this they are communicating with the audience and asking them to decide which network is the best by trying all options themselves and not merely on the basis of hearsay.


Airtel has been outsourcing all its non-core operations like network planning and IT services to third parties and focusing only on its core operation like finance, sales, and marketing. Airtel has a decentralized business model called as ‘Minute factory model’ which focuses on building high usage and reducing the cost to form the customer base to increase its profitability. This successful model has also been adopted by Airtel’s competitors.


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