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Vodafone International Marketing Strategy

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
    • International Marketing Strategy
    • Competitive Environment
    • Market Segmentation
    • Innovative Strategy
    • Acquisition, Collaboration and Merger Strategy
    • Cost Reduction Strategy
    • Branding Strategy
  • Statement of Research Problem and Proposed Research Method
    • Research Methods
    • Data Collection
  • Explanation of Research Process Undertaken and Description of Findings
  • Analysis of Findings
    • Analysis of Branding Strategy
    • Analysis of Cost Reduction Strategy
    • Analysis of Innovation Strategy
    • Analysis of Acquisition and Merger Strategy
  • Conclusion
  • References


This case research was ready to analyze Vodafone’s global marketing policies in various nations. Vodafone has introduced several marketing strategies in the international business setting to enhance its presence in the mobile communications sector. Vodafone realized the significant change factor in the company setting as the traditional mobile marketing scheme was turned into internet and other multimedia services from mere voice call and messaging services. This change had been initiated by changing customer choices, appearance of latest technologies, and growing price rivalry from both existing competitors as well as new entrants. To cope up with these changes, Vodafone had initiated brand awareness strategies, cost reduction strategies, innovative strategies and acquisition strategies. This case study will analyse the impact of the strategies on overall performance of Vodafone. This is a descriptive case study and qualitative approach has been followed. The data used in this case study is secondary in nature and it has been collected from internet sources, journal and books. This case study has prepared in the form of six chapters. The first chapter is the introduction where the basic information about the topic has been given. The second chapter is the literature review. This chapter describes the in-depth understanding of the research subject by the use of appropriate materials from secondary data sources. In the third chapter, the approaches followed in the case study and methods of collecting data have been described. The fourth section describes the study method, i.e. how the study will be performed and how the results will be fundamentally described. The fifth section describes the information collected through literature review and secondary method evaluation. This section will demonstrate whether or not the results of the studies match the evaluation of the literature. The final conclusion will be taken in the final section and debated on the basis of the research problem. The case study is based on the research goal of understanding and effect of Vodafone’s global marketing strategies.

Literature Review

Vodafone is a telecommunication company which operates their business worldwide. It is a UK based company which serves around 359 million people internationally and operates in over 30 countries in the world [2] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

  • International Marketing Strategy

The principal approach to development of international marketing strategy can be done by three steps. First is the recognition of different marketing segments within the industry, second is clarifying the target customer segment and third is the improvement of products and services according to the needs and requirements of the particular segment. In order to be competitive in the international environment, Michael Porter had proposed three strategies which are cost leadership, focus and differentiation. Vodafone had implemented Porter’s generic strategies in the international business environment to remain competitive. Vodafone had focused on decreasing the cost of their services. In certain particular countries, Vodafone had implemented unique offers to dominate in the market segment.

Vodafone International Marketing Strategy

  • Competitive Environment

The international telecommunication market is a rising market. There is sturdy competition in this market from main players. In this telecommunication market related environment, the sales and profit is in peak position. The character of competition has also altered in the market. For example, prior to 2007, the Indian telecommunication market was dominated by mainly Reliance, TATA, Airtel and Essar, but now the situation had changed when several global companies had entered into Indian market, for example Vodafone, MTS and Telenor. Thus, it is necessary for Vodafone to differentiate its products and constantly develop its services with the ongoing changes of people’s need (Scribd, 2010).

Major Telecommunication Companies in the Emerging Market of India in 2011

Vodafone International Marketing StrategySource: (Scribd, 2010).

  • Market Segmentation

Vodafone separates its market according to the customer behaviour and requirements. It helps to develop suitable market scheme. The segmentation of Vodafone has changed according to the business environment. For example, in the year 1996–1997, Vodafone’s market segmentation was focused on voice centric customer who used phone call quite frequently. In the year 1998– 2000, when the telecommunication market environment was in growth stage, Vodafone followed the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) market segmentation. This type of segmentation was based on customer value. After 2004, the telecommunication market became mature and the profit was in peak position. At present, Vodafone focuses on 360 degree market segmentation on the basis of customer behaviour, lifestyle preference and value (Leproux, 2004).

Market Segmentation of Vodafone

Vodafone International Marketing StrategySource: (Leproux, 2004).

  • Innovative Strategy

The networking and telecommunication sector is continuously evolving and customers prefer to fulfil their communication requirement from one network provider. Vodafone had innovated ‘Total Communication’ benefits for customers that include voice mail, messaging, ‘fixed location service’, broadband facility and advertising. Due to increasing demand of internet and mobile services, Vodafone had experienced strong development by providing innovative features to customers. Vodafone had made alliance with major internet service companies and provides customers facility to use mobile handset as fixed line internet. Vodafone’s fixed location services attracted customers to substitute fixed line with mobile services for home as well as office use. This strategy also provides users to make call from mobile with similar rate as fixed line connection. Their broadband service is substitute of other mobile broadband services. Vodafone broadband allows users to use internet at home, offices or be in motion. The mobile advertising of Vodafone let advertisers as well as customers an opportunity to develop adverts. Thus, the total communication benefit provided by Vodafone was successful and it provided 13% of Vodafone’s revenue in the year 2009 and expected to increase in 2010 (Vodafone, 2008).

  • Acquisition, Collaboration and Merger Strategy

Vodafone uses aggressive growth strategy through acquisition, collaboration and merger. Vodafone wants to solidify their market position by the means of acquisition and alliance with other companies. The acquisition and technology contributes 65% of their growth. Vodafone assumes that accomplishing economies of scale is necessary to stay at a cost advantageous position in the market. The strong financial, managerial and human resources can help to achieve economies of scale and these resources can be accomplished quickly by merger and acquisition than establishing physical infrastructure. Vodafone possesses the capacity to merge and purchase other companies while maintaining low cost advantage. Vodafone had entered the international market by acquisition and collaboration. Acquisition helped Vodafone to maintain substantial earning with low chances of debt. In the year 2000, Vodafone had acquired Mannesmann to strengthen its cost leadership in Europe. It helped to access the new market of Europe (Huvard & Et. Al., 2006).

In the year 2007, Vodafone had attained 67% share of Hutchinson Essar by 11.1 billion USD. It had helped to keep the competitive position in Indian telecommunication market. The acquisition helped to establish brand presence in the fastest rising market of India. The innovative services of Hutch helped Vodafone to provide total communication benefit to the Indian customers (Singh, 2007).

  • Cost Reduction Strategy

Vodafone has been well-known for minimising their cost by dropping their operating expenses. Their cost reduction strategy helps to provide ‘scale benefits’ by optimising working and capital expenditure. Vodafone implements a series of cost programs which helps to minimise the operating costs. Their cost program helps to balance the cost inflation and facilitate them to increase the revenue [3] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

Vodafone had implemented ‘Siemens top’ plan to employ cost optimisation and reduce the cost of various operations. This plan had successfully reduced cost by 10% per year. Through this plan, Vodafone had involved 500 procedures and freed over 4000 servers and 1000 Tera Byte storage space. Their maintenance cost was saved by 10% and consolidation services cost was saved by 25% (Siemens IT Solutions and Services GmbH, 2011).

In the year 2007, Vodafone had selected Sony Ericsson to supply and allocate the spare equipments for their network service in European countries such as Portugal, Spain and Germany. According to the deal with Sony Ericsson, the supply of spare parts included 2G, 3G and transmissions tools in Europe. This is a part of cost reduction strategy of Vodafone which could enable the company to minimise the average cost of management procedure of supply and develop the service level. Through this agreement, Vodafone can harmonise the spare component supply, provide better cost transparency for the provision of services and eliminate the extra investment for spare component inventory. This agreement is beneficial for Vodafone in the sense that it can save the cost by channelizing purchases in all countries by a single supplier (Vodafone Limited, 2007).

In 2007, Vodafone had determined to outsource the IT solutions from IBM which can decrease the cost of business and develop the customer service (Jones, 2007).

  • Branding Strategy

Brand positioning involves developing an image of the brand which makes it familiar towards people. Vodafone had developed brand value by providing superior, reliable and differentiated service and good customer experience. Vodafone frequently carry out tracking their brand strength to evaluate the performance of Vodafone brand in every country and handle the brand as efficiently as possible. According to the report of ‘Brand Finance’; Vodafone brand was recognised as 7th most precious brand in the world and it had been positioned as top ten brands with regard to brand equity [4] (Vodafone Limited, 2010)

In the year 2009, Vodafone had developed new branding strategy by creating ‘Zoo Zoo’ characters. The advertisements of Vodafone was used for ‘Value Added Services’ such as simple recharge, hello-tunes, internet browsing, online bill deposit, roaming services, SMS scheme, music packs and unnecessary call blockages. The innovative ‘Zoo Zoo’ characters had caught people’s attention and curiosity towards the brand and thus Vodafone achieved remarkable brand image. Overall, the brand positioning of Vodafone was successful in Indian market. Vodafone had also initiated their newest brand positioning strategy ‘Power to you’ promotion which provides the customer benefits by offering many services. This promotion provides the facility to easy email access from any place and any time by any mobile phone. It also rejuvenates the IVR services and enhanced customer experience (Scribd, 2011).

Statement of Research Problem and Proposed Research Method

This case study research is conducted to investigate the reason of Vodafone’s huge success in the telecommunication industry. It has been seen from literature review that Vodafone had spent huge effort on marketing activities. Vodafone had implemented different strategies in different countries to gain competitive advantage. The main research problem is that the analysis of the impact of different international strategy in the growth and revenue of Vodafone worldwide. They had implemented cost reduction strategy and proved to receive strong growth in upcoming markets. Vodafone develops new schemes and provides customers their communication need by conducting market research. It has become one of the major telecommunication operators in Europe, Africa and India by their international marketing strategy. Their Smartphone share had been increased by 20% in the year 2010 compared to 8% in the year 2006. Vodafone developed broad ranges of smartphone devices and increased varieties of applications. It had increased the customer expectation, network, internet speed, service quality and at present it has strong presence in many countries worldwide [5] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

  • Research Methods

The study involves analytical research in the sense that the data which have been used in conducting the case study is already available and those data have been used to make critical evaluation of the case study topic. This research aims to quantify the impact of international marketing strategy over the success of Vodafone, thus analytical research methods have been used. This case study is unstructured in nature and qualitative research method had been followed in this research. The reason for using qualitative research is that it helps to generate ideas and obtain more realistic information. Qualitative method can provide comprehensive analysis of any incident under examination. It is a flexible approach of collecting data, analysis of data and understanding of collected information. It is a single case analysis and the population is the international telecommunication industry where Vodafone had been chosen as the sample. Vodafone had been chosen because it is one of the leading telecommunication service providers in the world and it has shown tremendous growth in recent years.

  • Data Collection

Secondary data will be used in this research. Secondary data will be appropriate to analyse the research problem because it is a small case study research project and secondary data will provide broad information. Further additional information can be collected for better understanding of the research problem. For collecting secondary data the following methods had been followed:

Internet: The secondary data had been collected by internet surveys because it can provide broad information and data regarding Vodafone’s international strategy will be available in their company’s website.

Journals: Journals have been used in qualitative research and the data has been collected by journals because it can provide reliable information about the subject and actual phenomenon of research problem. It is useful to arrive at conclusion quickly.

Library: Library is useful source of secondary research. It is useful to collect information from library as the accurate data regarding various international marketing strategies can easily be collected from library sources. Ranges of books, newspaper, magazines had been used for secondary data sources in this case study research.

Explanation of Research Process Undertaken and Description of Findings

In this case study, the literature review had been conducted to understand the impact of international marketing strategy of Vodafone. The secondary data had analysed by using broad approach. In this case study, every possible aspect of the research subjects has been considered to reach the conclusion. The secondary data collected through internet and books are analysed and presented in such a way that the reader will be clear about the entire process of the case study research. The data collected in the case study is all related to the research subjects. The finding is matched with the information of literature review. One of the major difficulties while conducting the case study was the resource allocation. The appropriate research material was limited to collecting from the internet. The lack of suitable data has made it difficult to analyse the impacts of international strategies on the performance of Vodafone.

Analysis of Findings

The data collected by secondary research is aimed towards analysing the findings of the research problem. Information from internet, journals and library sources are directed to analyse the research objective. In the international marketing environment, Vodafone had implemented the Ansoff Matrix to improve their earnings and profitability.

Source: (McDonald & Meldrum, 2007).

  • Analysis of Branding Strategy

In the year 2009, Vodafone had developed ‘Zoo Zoo’ advertising in Indian market during the IPL session. The cost of making 30 advertisements of 20 – 30 seconds was almost   3crores. The reaction of the advertising campaign was huge. Over 4.68 million people had viewed the advertisement of Vodafone in YouTube and in ‘Facebook’ the ZooZoo have more than 350000 fans and above 2.6 million viewers. The ‘ZooZoo’ word became greatly popular and it was the third largest searching character on Google in the year May, 2009 (Global Mobile Association, 2010).

In Ireland, Vodafone had selected Xiam to manage the advertising of Vodafone. The advertising of Xiam’s cost was 10 times more than the cost of web banner advertising. The advertising was beneficial for Vodafone. Almost 16% users had viewed the advertising which was sufficient to bring brand awareness (Qualcomm Incorporated, 2011).

  • Analysis of Cost Reduction Strategy

Cost reduction is one of the international strategies of Vodafone. The primary objective of Vodafone is to decrease the operating cost which helps to maintain their competitiveness in international environment. Vodafone had undertaken many measures to decrease the cost. Significant attempts had been made by Vodafone in developing the infrastructure of network. Vodafone had successfully initiated many procedures to minimise the usage of power and energy. Vodafone had implemented cost reduction strategy in Europe. It had offered little cost for using Vodafone Smartphone in Europe. The new pricing strategy gave customer right to enjoy domestic data plan by only 2 Euro in a day. It was proved as 60% cost reduction than normal charge. Vodafone had implemented this strategy in the winter season as it was the holiday season and customer can enjoy the offer in European countries such as France, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium (Mansfield, 2010).

In 2010, the total Smartphone penetration of Europe was 10% and in the ‘first quarter of 2011’ it has increased to 16%. The sales of Smartphone were 20% in the year 2010 and in the first quarter of 2011, the Smartphone sales had raised to 32% [5] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

Source: [5] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

  • Analysis of Innovation Strategy

Vodafone seeks to increase the revenue by providing innovative offers to the customers. At present, customers want to access new technology, mobile devices and services. Thus, Vodafone developed strategies to provide customers unique services which they can enjoy at home or and office. Vodafone had innovated to provide total communication benefit for customers. It provides users variety of facilities such as voice mail, messaging, fixed location service, broadband service and advertising and high speed internet service. Vodafone’s internet service had shown tremendous growth and the earnings had improved by 40.6% i.e. almost €2.2 billion. The uses of business electronic message and ‘PC connectivity’ media of Vodafone had also increased twice which was accounted at 5.8 million. Vodafone had taken the opportunity of increasing trend of using internet and thus this strategy proves successful in international market. Their mobile internet subscribers had increased to 2 million. The international strategy of Vodafone is the source of strong development in rising market. They had successfully outperformed their competitors and accomplished their target (Vodafone Limited, 2008).

Source: (Vodafone Limited, 2008).

For customers’ need, Vodafone had introduced 66 new models of mobile handset in the year 2010. These handsets assist customers to access email, internet, free songs download and other facilities such as touch screen, data backup facility and wide ranges of applications with an affordable cost. Vodafone had also introduced new innovative product Vodafone 360 which provides the access to social networking and chats facilities. Almost 24% of Vodafone handsets were sold in Europe. Vodafone’s revenue from voice services had shown a growth of 11.4%, its messaging, data and other fixed services had also experienced tremendous growth from 2007 to 2009. Vodafone had innovated money transfer facilities in three countries i.e. Kenya, Afghanistan and Tanzania to provide customers an option to transfer money from the phone even if they don’t have any bank account. It was a huge success as the number of customers of Vodafone had increased to 13 million in the year 2010 compared to nine million in 2007 ([6] Vodafone Limited, 2010 & [1] Vodafone Limited, 2010).

Source: [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

Chart showing the increase of total service revenue of Vodafone from 2007 – 2009:

Source: (Vodafone Limited, 2009)


  • Analysis of Acquisition and Merger Strategy

Acquisition and merger is one of the growth strategies of Vodafone. From late 1990s, Vodafone had made series of acquisitions and mergers to grow spontaneously in the international market. In the year 1999, Vodafone had acquired Air Touch Communication which had helped to get 35% share of Mannesmann. In September of 1999, Vodafone had combined itself with Bell Atlantic Corporation of U.S. In 2000, Vodafone purchased Mannesmann. In Ireland, Vodafone had purchased Eircell in the year 2001. In 2002, Vodafone had taken over the third biggest network service operator of Japan, J–Phone. In Europe, Vodafone had made agreement with many networks operators (Nemeton, 2003).

Table showing partnership with companies in Europe from 2002 – 2006:

Date Signed as partner Country (Europe)
2nd February 2002 Radiolinja               Finland
7th January 2003 Mobilcom               Austria
21st July 2003 Bite               Lithuania
16th February 2004 LuxGSM               Luxembourg
20th February 2004 Cyta               Cyprus
13th December 2005 Telsim               Turkey
22nd February 2006 Mobitel               Austria
11th April 2006 BITE Group               Latvia

Source: (Nemeton, 2003).

Table showing customer growth of Vodafone from 2003 to 2004:

Country Customer Growth (%) Prepaid Customer (%)
Northern Europe 9 51
Southern Europe 10 78

Source: (Vodafone Limited, 2004)

Through a number of acquisitions and business transactions, Vodafone had changed itself to be one of the top international mobile communication organisations. In the market of Asia-pacific, Vodafone had acquired and made joint ventures with many companies. In the year 1998, Vodafone took over BellSouth New Zealand. In October 2003, J-Phone fell one with Vodafone. It had transformed shortly into Vodafone Live. In Hong Kong, Vodafone was involved in joint partnership with SmartTone in 2005, and turned into ‘SmartTone-Vodafone’. In the year 2006, Vodafone was involved in mutual union with Telecom Malaysia and jointly entered the Indonesian and Malaysian market. In the year 2007, Vodafone made partnership with Samoa (Nemeton, 2003).

In Middle East and Africa, Vodafone had entered into telecommunication market by Vodafone Egypt in the year 1998. In 2002, Vodafone had made partnership deal with MTC in Kuwait. In the year 2003, Vodafone had increased the stake by 87.9% in Vodafone Hungary. In the year 2005, Vodafone had raised their stake in Vodacom Group. In the year 2006, Vodafone had made agreement with Telecom Egypt to further occupy the Egyptian Market. In India, Vodafone had obtained Bharti Enterprises in the year 2005. In 2006, Vodafone had taken over Venfin of South Africa. These successful acquisitions had raised the customer base and revenue in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and African Countries.

Table showing the registered proportionate customer increase in 2002, 2006 and 2009:

Registered Proportionate Customers
Country 2002 2006 2009
Germany 21434 29191 35471
Italy 13560 18490 22914
Spain 7241 13521 16910
Albania 130 772 1395
Australia 2050 3177 3970
Egypt 1031 3314 10405
Greece 1539 4471 5899
Hungary 330 2063 2562
Ireland 1704 2075 2175
Malta 122 175 201
Netherlands 2289 3909 4618
New Zealand 1095 2068 2502
Portugal 1445 4276 5639
United States 13081 23530 38948
UK 13186 16304 18716

Source: (Vodafone Limited, 2002); (Vodafone Limited, 2006) & (Vodafone Limited, 2009).

Increase in number of customer, market and revenue of Vodafone from 1998 to 2006:

Source: (Vodafone Limited, 2006).

From the above table, it has can be seen that the customer base of Vodafone in every country had increased since 1998 to 2009. Their international business operation and revenue had increased considerably. The international strategies of Vodafone were proved successful in the global market and it has successfully retained the leading position in telecommunication market.



From the evaluation of the results, it is evident that in multiple countries Vodafone has made excellent strides in achieving global strategy. Vodafone recognized people’s needs in distinct areas and made their strategic motion in distinct nations accordingly. Vodafone continued its service and product development and expanded its business portfolio. Vodafone’s proficiency in international strategies can been seen from the results of different counties.

Vodafone follows the acquisition strategy to enter new market in different countries which help to diversify the risk of new market. Their main strategy in international market is to develop the total communication benefit to customers. From the above analysis it has been seen that their total communication benefit had increased their revenues in the emerging markets. Vodafone understands the marketing needs of different countries and accordingly implements strategies.  In Europe, Vodafone focuses on cost reduction strategy and total communication benefit strategy. It helps to increase the revenue of Vodafone mobile services in Europe. The strategy of Vodafone had made it as one of the biggest players in Europe with 35 million data users. The mobile data market in Europe contributes almost 57 billion USD [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

In Indian market, Vodafone started their operation by acquisition strategy. The acquisition of Hutchinson Essar was a wise move for Vodafone which had made Vodafone the second biggest mobile communication operator in India. Vodafone put much effort on brand awareness in India by advertising. Vodafone’s unique branding strategy of ‘ZooZoo’ campaign was also successful in Indian market to attract the attention of people. In Indian market, Vodafone had almost 5 million data customers and the total data market of Vodafone was accounted as 3 billion USD in the year 2010. It is being expected that the Indian mobile market will exceed the German mobile market which is one of the largest mobile market in Europe by number of users [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

Providing innovative services is another international strategy of Vodafone. Vodafone knows the growing need of internet, email and multimedia of customers in every country and accordingly develops unique packages for customers. Thus, it had developed Smartphone and Vodafone 360 that provides extra services to users such as social networking, games, music and applications. Besides it also provides to select the channel which is most suitable for customer. The Smartphone acquired almost 15% of mobile industry in the year 2009 compared to 8% in the year 2006 and it is expected to increase more in future [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

In Middle East and African market, Vodafone identified the need of easy money transfer, because the bank facility is rare in that region. People move money by using traditional system. Thus, Vodafone had taken this opportunity and introduced the unique money transfer facilities in the three countries of Middle East and Africa. It was a successful strategy in those countries as the number of customers had increased [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

With the help of good international marketing strategy, Vodafone had enlarged its customer base from 2.7 billion in the year 2006 to 4.7 billion in 2010. In the most recent three years, Vodafone had developed its customer base by 20% and this development is concentrated on rising mobile markets such as China and India. However, there is enormous competition in telecommunication service industry because the customer’s choices have broadened as many new players are entering into the market. The competitors have wide ranges of products with exciting services. Though Vodafone had succeeded in many rising markets but their revenue had fallen in certain countries. In Turkey, the revenue had dropped by 2% because of low profitability and high concentration on brand visibility. In Europe, the service revenue had fallen to 3.5% because of low business activity of customers. Thus, Vodafone has to be cautious while implementing marketing strategies in international business environment. A proper marketing analysis must be done before introducing any new offer or service [1] (Vodafone Limited, 2010).

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