Friday, August 18, 2017

Freecharge: It was not the end.

Who took Freecharge to Rs.2400 Crores and who brought it down to Rs. 365 Crores in less than two years? It is theory v/s practical misunderstanding. Short cycle companies need to learn a lot from the legacy brands that have sustained growth much before pre-digital & the current times of digital evolution.

Theory reads, “What strategies should companies use to regain market share they have lost?” & finds the answer in three key ways that help companies to regain market share: 1. pricing changes 2. promotional changes and 3. product changes. But, in the real world, companies have proven all theories wrong & still failed to survive. Because, instead of products, they have followed brand lifecycle approach.

Now, let us understand, how in current situation Freecharge sold to Axis Bank can use its current brand value/assets to regain its share while following a legacy approach.

Current Status:

Freecharge has currently 10 Million+ mobile downloads & is readily available on the desktop. They have been sending messages/emails & gifting free recharges to sustain active accounts ratio. Let’s assume they currently have 5 Million active users. Enough to start something new & surprise the media, you & me.

Legacy brands, during turbulent times, tend to work on a Flotilla Concept – Save the Master Brand- Create New Concepts & Kill them to Survive, while retaining users stick to the master brand e.g. The Times of India, 150+ years old company with so many product lines (newspapers, events, apps etc.) put to use for numerous applications (uses), resulting in high brand visibility while a few products fail or fetch a little profit, but TOI- The Master Brand remains. Therefore, instead of products, companies should focus on brand value to grow like legacy brands. Sell units, retain brands.


Step 1: Be the first to launch a Crypto Currency (e.g. Bitcoin) Platform, while this will help you with more traffic & KYC data, due to established credibility, one can see hell lot of money flowing into Freecharge Exchange – To ensure the legalities, split the Freecharge Brand to Freecharge Exchange & Freecharge Wallet, while taking the advantage of the existing user base. It’s the same practical approach followed by Paytm & Paytm Mall

Step 2: Launch a tax-free food couponing platform - Freecharge Food Wallet to help company employees avail tax benefits e.g. currently they get Sodexo Coupons that can be replaced with a digital wallet. This will open gates to enter into Corporate World based on long-term tie-ups and that is sustainable income.

Step 3: Launch Freecharge Assure Service Platform; with an annual subscription of Rs. 499/599/899, one can avail all their online deliveries for free for specific periods. Run this like a Partner Network Program. Delivery is made by the respective brands itself, but, this particular unit will work like a loyalty coalition program.

Step 4: Freecharge Checkup: Tie-up with all the major hospitals/labs/clinics in the city and let people book an appointment on the app itself & pay via Freecharge Wallet, while all their medical records will be maintained within the app & in case of accident/emergency, doctors just need to know patients mobile number and everything will be auto-fetched. (Heavy apps, make it lighter with auto-scaling technology)

There are a lot many things what practical’s can teach us to survive & grow in this cruel world. What matters is, are we ready for a challenge to stop challenging & start doing?

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