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Missed Calls and Marketing Opportunities

ET Cases, 9 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Kumar Gambhiraopet and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Missed Calls and Marketing Opportunities


“We are not selling missed calls, we are selling consumer engagement through a simple interface.”

–Valerie Rozycki Wagoner, Founder & CEO, ZipDial

“Give me a missed call when you are leaving home and I will see you there,” (Chris to his friend), “Give me a missed call. I will call you back” (father to daughter), “Don’t give me missed calls – I am tired” (an irritated boyfriend to his girlfriend). Familiar with these conversations? Should be. While these conversations might have been familiar, what’s intriguing has been the purport of these conversations? Could a business proposition have been structured around missed calls?

From being a proxy for a pre-decided short message like ‘call me back’, ‘reached home safely’ to ‘I’m ready, come now’, the missed call speaks in ingenious ways in India and has moved beyond mere communication to be a INR500 crore marketing opportunity! According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, (TRAI) out of 772 million active mobile connections in India, almost 96%, of this user base, is of the prepaid variety that prefers a quick call. Realizing the potential of this new communication platform, several businesses like banks, e-commerce portals, restaurants, television channels including big brands, are embracing missed call as a kind of Morse code to better engage with their customers. In a market like India, digital means a 40 million internet base over 700 million mobile user base.5 The ease of missed calls and zero charges associated with it gives it an edge over other forms of communication, hence advertisers are adapting missed calls as a part of their communication strategy accordingly.......................

Marketing Tools – From Reaching Customers to Engaging Customers

In 1990s, traditional marketing platforms like, flyers, hoardings, promotional ads in newspapers, on TV and radio, helped companies reach their customers providing brand information which could influence the customer purchasing behavior. Performance of the brand would be measured by the sales as well as profits and new marketing plans would be devised using the data mined from these platforms. This era of massmarket lacked technology to help direct interaction with the customers and collect their information to chalk out tailormade products, services and solutions. The landscape of marketing platforms’ changed with the advent of internet and mobile phones............

Missed Call as a Marketing Tool

Building on the rising popularity of missed calls several B2B and B2C companies like Pepsi Co, HUL, Microsoft, Lenskart, CBI (Central Bank of India) and a host of others are drawing up exotic and exclusive campaigns to build customer relationships. Speaking on the efficacy of the missed call marketing HUL's non-executive Chairman, Harish Manwani says, "In countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil, the driving medium is mobile. Two billion consumers in the developing world are connected to cellphones, and reaching them is vital. In India, too.............

The Making of the Missed Call Campaigns

Any missed-call marketing campaign requires an interplay between the sponsoring company (like HUL, Lenskart, CBI, etc.), the mobile phone network operator (like Vodafone, Airtel, Idea Cellular, etc.), and most important a mobile marketing expert (like ZipDial, VivaConnect, etc.) (Annexure I)). Sponsoring companies need to take a call between short codes and long codes when it comes to select the telephone number.............

Benefits of the Tool

Venkat Mallik, President and Head, RAPP India, Mudra Group’s data-driven marketing communications agency says, “Voice and SMS campaigns can work wonders for clients in measuring ROI on media spends.”28 If a brand devised a missed call campaign on television, print, outdoor and digital, with the data captured during the campaign, the brand can track the consumer responses specific to each medium. Mobile Marketing companies like ZipDial, pioneered this medium (offering myriad of services (Annexure II)) providing vital informational analytics to the brands..........

Missed Calls and Myriad Doubts

Unilever’s popular music streaming service where a customer can listen to music by placing a missed call, triggered mixed opinions with marketers. Some of them say it’s difficult to measure how well the music services translate into conversions. Milind Pathak, Global Head at One97 Communications, says, “If consumers flock for a free service, costs for the companies can rise to unsustainable levels, it’s impossible to sustain these kinds of costs unless you are a really big company with lots of brands.”..........

Assignment Questions

I. What does the increasing popularity of missed call marketing mean for advertising industry and marketing strategists? What do you think are the differences between traditional forms of advertising (TV, Print, and Radio) and Digital as well as Mobile advertising?

II. What factors are contributing to the growth of missed call advertising in India? Is it the emotional connect and the experiential marketing that engage the customers or the growth of mobile connections playing a vital role for the development of this marketing tool?



Exhibit I: Shift in Metrics

Exhibit II: Intended Use of Digital Technologies

Exhibit III: ATL, BTL & TTL Activities Across the Communication Platforms

Exhibit IV: ‘Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience’

Exhibit V: User Identity Validation for E-Commerce Portals

Exhibit VI: Consumer Information Offered by ZipDial’s Dashboard Service


Annexure I: Players in the Missed Call Marketing Platforms

Annexure II: Zip Dial’s – Missed call – Value Added Services

Teaching Note Preview

Missed Calls and Marketing Opportunities



Set in mid of 2014, this case study details the prospects and perils of ‘missed calls’ over mobile phones as new tool of marketing communication platform in India. This case study enables an interesting discussion on how this non-intrusive way of communication helps companies to connect with the customers and build  one-on-one-relationships. What is the impact of this medium in creating customer value and building customer loyalty as well as enhancing brand visibility? Do these initiatives offer interactive or experiential marketing to all the businesses across industries? Do they really influence the buying behavior of the customers or end up in classical format of advertising restricting itself to broadcasting or providing product information?

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU) material is the background material that would aid immensely in mapping the decision areas of this case study and bring a synthesis amongst the relevant concepts. The participants/students should be encouraged to read this material to benefit from the broader perspectives outlined in the case study.

  • • Roland T. Rust, et al., “Rethinking Marketing” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2010 – To understand the changing paradigms of marketing


Expected Learning Outcomes

This case study would help achieving the following learning outcomes:

  • • Understand the transformation of marketing platforms from broadcasting, reaching out to consumers to engaging them providing experiential marketing
  • • The ways in which companies are leveraging the potential of Digital as well as Mobile platforms as a marketing tool to engage the customers and devise customized products and services
  • • The evolution of product marketing practices into customer centric marketing and the role of missed calls in creating the customer value
  • • Whether Missed Call marketing platform can be applied to all the products across the industries or it’s specific to some
  • • Using missed call marketing tool can be used as a marketing plan to devise an exclusive marketing strategy for a product/service


Assignment Questions

  • I. What does the increasing popularity of Missed Call marketing mean for advertising industry and marketing strategists? What do you think are the differences between traditional forms of advertising (TV, Print and Radio) and Digital as well as mobile advertising?
  • II. What factors are contributing to the growth of Missed Call advertising in India? Is it the emotional connect and the experiential marketing that engage the customers or the growth of mobile connections playing a vital role for the development of this marketing tool?
  • III. ....................



Rs 0
Product code: MKTG-1-0029, MKEG-1-0029A


This case study enables an understanding and discussion on missed calls as a new trend marketing opportunity. While several companies in India - Pepsi, Cadbury, HUL, etc., have been using missed call as a marketing tool with reasonable success, the political parties too have found enormous benefits in missed calls. AAP's (Aam Aadmi Party) success in Delhi 2014 elections proved the power of missed calls. Several mobile marketing vendors like ZipDial, Viva Connect, IMI Mobile, VoiceTree Technologies, etc., have been guiding the Indian companies through this platform. Would the new platform resonate with consumers over long time horizons? Or would it just be a fad fading into the oblivion with the ever discerning and demanding customers? Touted as the most non-intrusive way of building one-on-one relationship with consumers, would it build the new marketing traction for Indian companies?

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the evolution of missed call as a marketing opportunity for Indian companies and debate on its power as a marketing tool vis-à-vis other marketing tools SMSs, digital campaigns, etc.
  • To discuss and debate the potential and challenges of missed calls as a marketing tool
  • To examine critical success factors for missed calls as a marketing opportunity

Positioning and Case Setting

This case study can be used in the following courses/modules:

Marketing Management Course

This case study can be used in the Marketing Management Course for discussing and understanding the business implications of either of the following:

    a) Designing and Managing Integrated Marketing Communications - To debate on the potential of missed calls as an alternative marketing tool

    b) Managing Mass Communication - Would missed call be an effective tool for managing mass communications

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- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)

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