Vada Pav Ke Bhaav Mein Internet

31 Jan 2023

I have become quite health conscious of late, but there’s one craving I can’t resist – Vada Pav. So, while giving in once again and gorging on my favourite Mumbai street-food, a WhatsApp notification popped up on a marketing community: “Reliance ne 5G announce kiya, suna na?”

I looked at my half eaten vada pav and immediately a dialogue rang in my head: “Vada pav ke bhaav mein Internet!”

That was a promise Mukesh Ambani had made when launching Jio in 2016. And went on to keep his word. That’s one value which is considered above all at Eggfirst.

रघुकुल रीत सदा चली आई,
प्राण जाए पर वचन न जाई |

Here’s how Mukesh Ambani did it…

Let’s flashback to 2016. 1 GB of data cost approximately Rs. 225. Sounds straight out of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, right? Enter Jio by Mukesh Ambani, who promised “vada pav ke bhaav mein Internet”.

They launched with an eye-popping offer: Free Jio SIM card, free calling, 100 text messages per day, and the sixer – 4 GB data per day at 4G speed. Remember, this was 2016 when 4G was still the privilege of the privileged. They roped in Shah Rukh Khan as the brand ambassador. And spread the network to the nooks and corners of India. And people, especially from the hinterlands, queued up to grab this offer!

Then, in 2017 came the clincher – the JioPhone – India ka smartphone. An effectively free 4G enabled smartphone. It received an overwhelming 6 million pre-orders. A major chunk of this came from rural India. By end of the 2017, JioPhone overtook incumbents Samsung, Micromax, and Nokia to lead India’s feature phone market.

Jio’s marketing strategy to go after the till-then ignored consumer with sachet-like data packs, was a game-changer.

Rest as they say, is history.

This caused an industry-wide price correction and data rates dropped to compete those of Jio. Between then and now, India’s Internet user base has grown to 504 million. Today, India has the highest mobile data consumption rate in the world at 12 GB per user a month. And data is available at less than the rate of a vada pav (Rs 15 per vada pav, and less than Rs 10/ per day for 1 GB internet data).

A major fallout of this has been connection of and with rural India. India has 622 million active Internet users with 299 million from rural India. 299 million active internet users in the hinterlands of India! That’s almost the population of USA!

What this did is that it opened doors for brands to reach the erstwhile impenetrable rural markets through digital means. Suddenly, brands had access to this huge mass of population without burning a big hole in the media pockets. And not only brands, but the entire eco-system leveraged this.

In 2017, Google added voice search capability for 8 additional languages (apart from Hindi and English). In early 2018, Microsoft announced support for email addresses in 15 languages. Social media sites like Facebook and WhatsApp offered their services in vernacular languages.

Most reputable (and large) Indian start-ups like Ola, Paytm, Bookmyshow have already incorporated Hindi and other languages for faster adoption and penetration. Consumers can use Amazon in 8 Indian languages. Amazon is also training its voice-based virtual assistant to become conversant in different languages and dialects.

Some of India’s largest agri-input companies like Bayer and Deepak Fertilisers implemented hugely successful digital-only campaigns for farmers (happy to say that these campaigns were conceptualised and executed by Eggfirst).

Vada pav ke bhaav mein Internet. A promise made. A promise kept. A nation connected.

Now, I have two mouthwatering reasons to wait for Diwali: The irresistible sweets and the potential dhamaaka in the marketing spheres with the advent of 5G by Jio.

– By Ravi Banka, MD – Eggfirst