The continued failure to achieve success as Zimbabweans and Africans in general, has by many, been attributed to the fact that we have failed to find local solutions to our local problems. We have, over the years tried to administer foreign prescriptions on our local problems hence why we never seem to progress as a country and as a continent. Fast forward to December 2015, when Strive Masiyiwa announced on his blog that Econet Global was about to launch a Pay TV service known as Kwesé TV, I personally thought, here was the beginning of a new era. Kwese TV would only focus on sports and entertainment programming to African markets. This to me seemed like tailor made solution to Africa. And indeed it was. This was going to be a TV service for everyone, anywhere and everywhere in Zimbabwe.
Fast forward again to November 2018, with just over a year of operating in Zimbabwe, KWESE TV seems to be closing shop. The news coming from the Econet Group desk is that it has reviewed its media business strategy and service offerings, to align them with the changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector on the continent. The Group further went on to state that the change in strategy would result in significant changes to its Kwese TV offering which will, with effect from 1 Nov 2018, discontinue current channels and replace them with new free channel line up to be available immediately.
In as much as there is a lot of diplomacy in the statement offered by the Group, a lot of subscribers of their product feel this could be the end of Kwese TV in Zimbabwe. However, Kwese TV stated that they will still be offering other services: Kwese Iflix, Kwese Play & Kwese Free Sports. There are lessons that new businesses and start-ups can learn from this Kwese TV issue.
The importance of market research and KYC (Know Your Customer)
When you enter a new market as a start-up business, one of the first things that must be done fully, without cutting corners, is to conduct a conclusive market research of the field being entered. The desire for any business is to set up successfully, offer a product or service at a price that generates some form of revenue and eventually a business which is a going concern, with a future and continuity. This is only possible if a comprehensive study of the market is done prior to entering a market. This study will go a long way in influencing a lot of strategic and operational decisions in the business.
Kwese TV probably spent millions of dollars in doing their market research. However, many people believe that Kwese TV did not get it right when they concluded that they could get sufficient customers without the full English Premiership Soccer games rights. Consumers will only take up a product which addresses their needs, and English Premiership League is needed by majority of TV subscribers. In today’s business world the importance of KYC cannot be over emphasized as it is one of the corner stones of every successful business. The failure to broadcast live English Premiership matches could have to some extent contributed to the low uptake of Kwese TV.
Know when to change your business strategy and diversify
In business the first idea that brings you into a market is usually not the one that makes you strike gold. Successful business people will tell you that they have had to change their business idea a number of times for them to keep up with market developments and competition. Having been operating in the African market for close to two years, Kwesé says it has taken time to monitor subscriber viewing habits and preferences. They say this observation has led them to provide a product range that is aligned to market needs. Thus Kwesé streamlined its satellite television service and focused on on three other related services: Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play. This goes to show that business people should know when it is time to re-strategize, refocus and regroup. So the company has not failed, it’s only one of their products (Kwese Satelite TV) which they are “shutting down”/”streamlining”.
Know your competitor
Some level of competition is good for any business especially from a consumer’s point of view. It keeps service providers in check and ensures product quality and continuous product development. It would be suicidal for a business to assume that they operate in isolation. When entering a new market always know who the current players in the market are; what products they offer and at what price and also what competitive advantage you hold over them and them, over you. This will help your business position itself strategically so as to withstand the heat and also become the market leader.
Do not over sell or promise
As a customer it is good to do business with a company that is confident of the product/service that they offer. It is also good to deal one that promises new product features in the future and keeps you on your toes with continuous product improvement. However should those future promises vanish in the air and not manifest themselves, consumers are left thinking whether all that was just a marketing strategy and they have been duped into migrating to your product/service as a business owner. When Kwese TV came into the market a lot was promised and expected but the service delivery seemed not to match this prior hype and hence subscribers felt Kwese did not live up to expectations.
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
This gospel has been preached for years in many business forums that l have attended and even in other spheres of life. A business should always know its strengths and weakness and look to find opportunities to improve and threats to either eliminate or contain. I remember my business lecturer would call this analysis a SWOT (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities and Threats) analysis of your business. This assessment is important for all businesses especially start-ups as it helps establish your market position and gives you a better view of the market and your role as fish in the ocean full of sharks. Talk about having an ‘advantage’ over your competitor, Kwesé TV was fortunate to come at a time when there was a cash crisis in the country and their rival DSTV had stopped accepting bond notes. Banks one by one stopped facilitating these DSTV payments and when Kwesé TV promised to accept payment in whatever currency, the public could not help but see Kwese as the ‘TV service redeemer’ that had been found.
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