We ask dtac’s new Chief Marketing Officer how dtac will get back to growth

“There’re a lot of opportunities to gain more market share both in the prepaid and postpaid markers. This will bring dtac back growth,” says dtac’s chief marketing officer, How Lih Ren, who joined the company on April 1, 2019.

Having worked at consulting firms and Malaysian mobile operator Digi, Mr. How (who also hails from Malaysia) has an extensive experience in corporate strategy, product development, portfolio project management, consumer sales and digital product portfolios.

He joined dtac at a difficult time, as the operator’s market share has slipped from second to third and subscribers dropped from 24.3 million in 2017 to 20.7 million in early 2019.

Despite this, the newly appointed CMO outlines that “there are a lot of opportunities that dtac never tapped into.”Thai smartphone users are heavy data users, consuming 11 GB of mobile data per month on average,while smartphone penetration is close to 82 percent. They rank among the world’s heaviest Facebook users, too.


“This clearly demonstrates that mobile internet is a big part of Thais’ everyday life, similarly to Malaysia where I came from,” says Mr. How.

Despite this heavy usage, he sees gaps in Thai mobile consumption that need to be filled. “A huge number of postpaid customers never subscribe to international roaming services, despite them traveling more and more. Thai outbound tourists reached 10 million last year with a predicted 10 percent growth this year.”

“We have never been focused on driving growth within the organization. What’s important to me is to build the organization with the right product proposition and growth mindset. I believe that we can provide very relevant products and services to customers,” he says.

“With the right product proposition, right innovation, right experience and the right network, we have a chance to grow in business and get more of our fair share of customers. Therefore. I want to rebuild dtac for growth and make sure we’re one of the dominant players in Thailand.”

Mr. How admits that network quality is among the top three subscription factors. Here too he is confident that dtac is rebuilding. “We fixed our network issues within the first half of 2019, while our coverage gaps will be bridged by the end of this year. Coverage will even be expanded by next year nationwide,” he says. “Our ambition is to offer the best service and rebuild customer confidence soon.”

Building digital ecosystem

Besides having the right product proposition, portfolio simplicity and good customer experiences, dtac will continue to strengthen its caring brand position, Mr. How explains.

“To build a trusted brand that customers will choose as a preferred partner, building a digital ecosystem– website and mobile application –is key. It will enable us to offer additional digital services via only one click. More importantly, we will get more customer insights, making them feel better about the brand.For instance, if your contract is ending, dtac should offer an exclusive deal for you.”

“Ideally, mobile internet is about connecting people to what matters most to them. It’s about giving everyone a good experience. Internet has become a high-value item for everyone,” says Mr. How.

As connectivity is the fundamental baseline, it provides a range of applications, including watching video, travelling more seamlessly, living healthily and more. These can be provided using the existing connectivity dtac already offers by adding neighboring products that can be distributed digitally.

“It is not necessary to be a cutting-edge technology provider. I’m a pragmatic person. We’re sometimes too focused on the need to find the next cycle of products. But have we even addressed basic connection needs for everybody yet? The answer is no,” he said.

Thriving to another challenges

One of the most challenging markets is the prepaid segment where competition has intensified of late. Users will buy a SIM card for a one-off promotion. Once the promotion ends, they just throw away the SIM and hunt down the next promo, regardless of the operator.

dtac therefore plans to improve its “lifecycle management strategy” by adding more value to existing customers, such as personalized offers, a reward program and more opportunities for engagement. To do so, dtac is launching Thailand’s first loyalty program for prepaid customers, Jaidee Jaek Suuk.

“We want to own the relationship throughout the customer’s lifecycle to make sure dtac grows with you as a customer,” stressed Mr.How.

When he visited Thailand in 2009, he felt that dtac has a very personal and emotional appeal, with a unique “feel good” factor.

“What dtac was facing in the last few years – management and regulatory uncertainties – those days are over and it is the perfect time to reinvest in the network,the next products,the right distribution and the right digital channels to engage our customers with personalized offers,” says Mr. How. “This will be our growth journey to be completed in the next few years.”