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Volume 4, Number 1, January March 2015

ISSN (Print):2279-0977, (Online):2279-0985


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SJIF

(2012): 3.23, SJIF (2013): 5.057

MARKETING STRATEGIES OF INDIAN TELECOM COMPANIES


Dr. Amulya M.19
ABSTRACT

The Telecom sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in India. The telecom sector has, during the last decade, witnessed a
transition from being a state-owned monopoly to one with competition and unprecedented growth in the subscriber base. The
growth has contributed immensely to the improvement in quality of life of the common person and facilitating the promotion
of trade and commerce besides strengthening the unity and integrity of the nation. The overall Teledensity today is around 74
percent. Still there are millions of ears in India waiting to hear the ring tone. As all the players are offering the services with
less differentiation the only way they can differentiate themselves is through the marketing approaches adopted to create
impression in the minds of the customers. Therefore, this paper focuses on the marketing strategies adopted by various
telecom companies to grab the same portion of the customers.
KEYWORDS

Indian Telecom Companies, Subscriber, Competition etc.


INTRODUCTION
India stands second in the world in the trailing only to China in the telecom market. Gone are the days where customers used to
pay advances to have the phone connection and wait for long years to have one. Customers had no other options then, as it was the
monopoly of the government owned company until recently. From the last decade, telecom sector has seen a tremendous growth
due to the entry of the private players in the market. The incumbent BSNL had never ever thought that it would face such a
competitive environment. In this changed scenario, it is inevitable for the companies to come up with the unique strategies to
sustain in the market. A good telecom marketing strategy will take the business vision and apply it to the customer base.
Following are the marketing strategies adopted by both public and private players to create impression in the minds of the
customers.
Cross-function Interaction
As telecom services is a technology driven industry, recent development in the technology made it possible to consolidate
different operations of the company by integrating process, organisations and technology. The CRM software usage to automate
sales and marketing made it possible to integrate all the functions by the availability of the data and to consolidate marketing
operations across geographies and channels.
Strategic Alliance Partner
A series of strategic alliances, both formal and informal, have already been entered in the Indian telecom sector by companies who
are either constrained by shortages of resources or do not have adequate presence in all geographical markets. Ex: Airtel the
market leader in the telecom sector has outsourced all the operations except sales & marketing and finance.
Market Entering Strategies
In case of a fast changing industry such as telecom, which is characterized by availability of variety of technologies and standards
and evolving regulations, timing of entry and roll out is a major strategic decision. Too early an entry involving irreversible
commitments may turn out is wrong while delayed entry may mean lost opportunities. Ex: Airtel bagged the first mover
advantage, where Tata Docomo used pricing strategy as the market entry strategy.
Market Segmentation-Geographical
As each segment is homogeneous in its needs and attitudes, it is likely to respond similarly to a given marketing strategy. The
range of choices available can include local, regional and national. For example: Reliance Infocom, given its big bang approach,
plans to cover all the 18-telecom circles in India. As against this, Bharti seems to be focusing on south and north Indian circles,
Tata Tele services in Andhra Pradesh, while smaller players with limited resources such as HFCL Infotel and Shyam Telecom are
concentrating on a single circle.

19

Assistant Professor, Department of MBA, University of Mysore, Karnataka, India, amulyabims@gmail.com

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Market Positioning
Market positioning has come to mean the process by which marketers try to create an image or identify in the minds of their target
market for its product, brand or organisations. It is the relative competitive comparison their product occupies in a given market
as perceived by the target market. Repositioning involves changing the identity of a product, relative to the identity of competing
products, in the collective minds of the target market. De-Positioning involves attempting to change the identity of competing
products, relative to the identity of your own product, in the collective minds of the target market.
For example: In telecom sector, there are a number of ways by which a new entrant can develop its market position. The key issue
is whether the firm wants to be an integrated or focused player. Reliance Infocomm, Bharati Tele ventures, and Tata tele-services
are positioning themselves as integrated players, though with differing levels of scope and commitment, and with desires to have a
presence in basic (both wire-line and wireless) as well as national and international long distance. All three companies are laying a
fiber optic network across the country to build backbone infrastructure, though the scale at which Reliance is building far exceeds
that of say, Tata tele-services. Bhartis project to connect Chennai and Singapore through an underground cable shows its
commitment to international long distance market.
Pricing Strategies
Pricing strategies are a sometimes-overlooked part of the marketing mix. They can have a large impact on profit, so should be
given the same consideration as promotion and advertising strategies. For example: Pay per second billing: Until the entry of the
Tata Docomo no one ever thought of offering services at the cheaper rate as it did. All the customers were paying for the entire
minute even though they have used few seconds, pay per second billing made a revolutionary change in the market, which finally
incumbents started adopting to change.
Promotional Mix
There are four main aspects of promotional mix. These are advertising, personal selling, sales promotions, public relations:
Ex: Overall, three observations emerge from the way reliance handled the media. Firstly, Reliance built huge public relations
exercised around the launch of the product. The public relations effort gave much advantage to the advertising and gave rise to a
word of mouth campaign. Secondly, Reliance Infocomm utilized every media vehicle very effectively. It advertised on every TV
channel available and in most newspapers, thus making sure that the product was being promoted across India-a nation very much
divided by language and market conditions. At the peak reliance, Infocomm booked about 5,000 spots on 40 TV channels, 1
million sq.ft. of space on hoardings across the country and inserted ads in over 70 publications in national and regional languages.
Thirdly, Reliance Infocomm capitalized on the passions of Indians when framing advertisements. The campaigns had an
emotional pitch, piggy backing on cricket and bollywood thus effectively connecting with almost every Indian.
Idea launched a unique Interactive Voice Response rural service called Behtar Zindagi in 16 regional languages, which provides
information on key requirements of the rural segment like mandi rates, livestock, weather information, agriculture etc. Classified
Services have been launched as a new VAS service, offering access to Jobs, Real Estate, Matrimony, Best Deals etc. Idea
continued on its What an Idea Sirji campaign and launched the much appreciated Break the Language Barrier campaign. It was
supported with a unique service of Idea Language Helpline offering instant translations in 15 Indian languages. The Idea 3G
media campaign was launched to support Ideas 3G rollout. Idea strengthened its brand through a series of media properties with
associations with Kaun Banega Crorepati, Koffee with Karan, Mission Army and Grammy Awards on VH1; in addition to
existing marquee properties like Idea Film fare Awards, Idea Present Citizens Journalist and other regional media properties. The
brand continued its association with the Delhi Daredevils team in IPL4. Idea launched a unique National Inter School Skill fest
called Kaho whats Your Idea in association with renowned Quizmaster Derek O Brien. The program was very well received, as
it became one of the largest National School Connect Programs in the country touching 2.5 Lakh students across 3000 schools in
100 cities.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY

To analyze the marketing strategies of BSNL and other private telecom service providers

HYPOTHESIS OF STUDY
H1: There is no significant difference between BSNL and other private telecom companies in their marketing strategies.
H2: There is significant difference between BSNL and other private telecom companies in their marketing strategies.

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METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH
Research Design: Descriptive method is used for conducting research. Data is gathered from customer care representatives, and
relationship /marketing managers of BSNL and from selected private telecom companies based on convenience sampling method
for the purpose of the study.
Source of Data: The proposed research requires both primary and secondary data.
Primary Data: Primary data on the CRM practices of the telecom companies is collected through the structured questionnaire.
The primary data collected from the managers, customer care executives, and relationship managers/executive of select telecom
companies.
Secondary Data: The secondary data is extracted from among different published sources such as TRAI manuals and reports,
magazines, voice & data magazine, research articles, cellular operators associations, research articles, books and selected
websites.
Sampling Design: Around 125 employees of various telecom service providers are selected for the study. Out of this, 50
employees were from BSNL, 25 from each of the private telecom service providers are selected for the study.
To analyze the data collected from respondents and to prove or disprove hypotheses, various statistical tools and techniques have
been applied in this study. For the purpose of processing and analyzing the collected data, statistical tools such as tables, charts
are used in this study. Mean, standard deviation and correlation are used for descriptive statistics. Cronbachs alpha was used for
determining the predictive validity and reliability of the questionnaire used in the study. The hypotheses are tested using ANOVA
test, Contingency Coefficient, P value and Pearson correlation analysis. The data collected from respondents is analyzed with the
help of SPSS.
MARKETING STRATEGIES OF TELECOM COMPANIES
Opinions of the employees on marketing strategies of Telecom companies are considered for the following statements:
a) Our Company Advertisements Are Innovative and Make Our Work Easier
Table-1

Sources: Field Survey


Advertisements help in building the brand image in turn increases the sales. 92% of Idea, 88% of BSNL, 84% of Vodafone and
76% of Airtel employees agree that their company advertisement innovative and makes their work easier. The test revealed a significant difference between these categories of responses (CC=0.463; P=0.000).
Idea employees feels that there advertisements are innovative and compliment the sales where least employees of the Vodafone
agree with the statement. There is a significant difference between the opinions of the service providers. Even though it was
awarded as most innovative advertisement, Vodafone employees do not feel that it is complementing the sales compared to idea.

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B) Our Website is more informative and Makes our Work Easier


Table-2
Response
Strongly Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
1
4.0%
5
20.0%
6
24.0%
13
52.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
0
0
0
.0%
.0%
.0%
0
4
5
.0%
16.0%
20.0%
6
10
15
12.0%
40.0%
60.0%
44
11
5
88.0%
44.0%
20.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
1
.8%
14
11.2%
37
29.6%
73
58.4%

CC
Value

P
Value

0.504

0.000

Website is a convenient means of reaching the customers with the required information throughout the world. In this internet era
self-service leads to less work for the employees as customers can access information, place request and queries at their
convenience through the website. 100% of Airtel, 84% of Vodafone, 80% of Idea and 76% of BSNL employees are of the opinion
that their website is more informative and make their work easier. The test revealed a significant difference between these
categories of responses with contingency and p value (CC=0.504; P=0.000).
C) We Sell SIM Cards in all Possible Areas through All Channels
Table-3
Response
Strongly Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
0
.0%
5
20.0%
5
20.0%
15
60.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
1
0
0
2.0%
.0%
.0%
0
4
6
.0%
16.0%
24.0%
5
9
5
10.0%
36.0%
20.0%
44
12
14
88.0%
48.0%
56.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
1
.8%
15
12.0%
24
19.2%
85
68.0%

CC
Value

P
Value

0.396

0.006

The distribution channel of the service provider is very important to make its service available easily, by selling SIM cards
through all possible channels, may be through the dealer, retailer or franchisee. 88% of the Airtel employee strongly agrees that
SIM cards are available in all the channels , 84% of Vodafone, 80% of BSNL, 76% of Idea employees subscribe to the opinion
that their SIM cards are available at the areas through all possible channels. The responses were similar which is further confined
by a non-significance contingency value and p value (CC=0.396: P=0.006).
D) We Will Not Delay in Activating Service on Purchase
Table-4
Response
Strongly Disagree
Somewhat Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
1
4.0%
0
.0%
4
16.0%
10
40.0%
10
40.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
0
0
0
.0%
.0%
.0%
0
0
1
.0%
.0%
4.0%
2
5
3
4.0%
20.0%
12.0%
7
7
7
14.0%
28.0%
28.0%
41
13
14
82.0%
52.0%
56.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
1
.8%
1
.8%
14
11.2%
31
24.8%
78
62.4%

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CC
Value

P
Value

0.200

0.738

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Quick activation is one of the determinants of the efficiency of service delivery. SIM card purchased need to be activated by the
service providers within the time given. 96% of Airtel employee agreed that it is done immediately followed 84% of Idea and
80% of both BSNL and Vodafone. The pattern of responses was found to be similar which is further confined by a nonsignificance contingency coefficient and p value (CC=0.200: P=0.738).which means all the service providers activate the SIM
card immediately.
E) We Conduct Survey to Understand the Satisfaction Level of Customers
Table-5
Response
Strongly Disagree
Somewhat Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
0
.0%
2
8.0%
6
24.0%
8
32.0%
9
36.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
0
0
1
.0%
.0%
4.0%
2
1
8
4.0%
4.0%
32.0%
2
7
7
4.0%
28.0%
28.0%
22
9
5
44.0%
36.0%
20.0%
24
8
4
48.0%
32.0%
16.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
1
.8%
13
10.4%
22
17.6%
44
35.2%
45
36.0%

CC
Value

P
Value

0.467

0.000

Frequent survey is conducted by the service providers to understand the satisfaction level of the customer and to analyze needs of
the customers and service quality. Many organizations depend upon simple customer questionnaire that may be completed and
returned by mail or deposited into a customer comment collection box. 92% of Airtel, 68% of Both BSNL and Vodafone and
36% of Idea employees subscribe to the opinion that they conduct survey to understand the satisfaction level of customers. The
test revealed a -significant difference between these categories of responses with contingency coefficient and p value (CC=0.467;
P=0.000).
F) We Conduct Exit Interview to the Customers and Their Feedback is Taken Seriously
Table-6
Response
Strongly Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
1
4.0%
6
24.0%
12
48.0%
6
24.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
0
2
0
.0%
8.0%
.0%
3
7
5
6.0%
28.0%
20.0%
23
6
11
46.0%
24.0%
44.0%
24
10
9
48.0%
40.0%
36.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
3
2.4%
21
16.8%
52
41.6%
49
39.2%

CC
Value

P
Value

0.341

0.057

Exit interviews reveal the satisfaction and dissatisfaction level of the customers; customers exit interview measures customer
perception, brand value or promotional values. Professionally trained interviewers conduct these studies to ensure quality
response. 94% of Airtel, 80% of Idea, 72% of BSNL and 64% of Vodafone employees agree that they conduct exit interview to
the customers and their feedback is taken seriously by their companies. The responses were similar which is further confined by a
non-significance contingency coefficient and P value (CC=0.341: P=0.057).
G) We Analyze the Reason for Leaving Our Service and Try to Implement It Wherever Necessary
Lost customers analysis is a research method used to determine a reason an individual customer or a class of customer has
withdrawn its service, whether by switching to a competing firm. Such analysis usually includes survey of lost customer and it is
used to improve performance by identifying and neutralizing sources of potential or actual customer dissatisfaction.56% of
employee respondents of Idea, 50% of Airtel, 48% of BSNL, 24% of Vodafone are of the opinion that they conduct lost customer
survey, whereas 52% of Vodafone, 28% of BSNL, 20% Idea and 8% of Airtel employees do not agree with this. The test revealed
a -significant difference between these categories of responses with contingency coefficient and P value (CC=0.437; P=0.001).
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SJIF

(2012): 3.23, SJIF (2013): 5.057

Table-7
Response
Strongly Disagree
Somewhat Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
0
.0%
7
28.0%
6
24.0%
12
48.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
1
4
4
2.0%
16.0%
16.0%
3
9
1
6.0%
36.0%
4.0%
21
6
6
42.0%
24.0%
24.0%
25
6
14
50.0%
24.0%
56.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
9
7.2%
20
16.0%
39
31.2%
57
45.6%

CC
Value

P
Value

0.437

0.001

CC
Value

P
Value

0.454

0.001

H) We Run the Customer Loyalty Programme to Our Customers


Table-8
Response
Strongly Disagree
Somewhat Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree

F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%

BSNL
1
4.0%
3
12.0%
7
28.0%
10
40.0%
4
16.0%

Mobile Service Providers


Airtel
Vodafone
Idea
0
1
1
.0%
4.0%
4.0%
9
6
2
18.0%
24.0%
8.0%
6
7
3
12.0%
28.0%
12.0%
7
4
14
14.0%
16.0%
56.0%
28
7
5
56.0%
28.0%
20.0%
Sources: Field Survey

Total
3
2.4%
20
16.0%
23
18.4%
35
28.0%
44
35.2%

Loyalty programs are structured marketing efforts that rewards and in turn encourages loyal buying behaviour, which is beneficial
to the firms. More specifically a loyalty card, reward card, point card identifies the card holder as a member in a loyalty
program.76% of Idea, 70% of Airtel,56% of BSNL, 44% of Vodafone employees agree that they run customer loyalty programs
to customers. Whereas, 28% of Vodafone, 18% of Airtel, 16% of BSNL and 12% of Idea employees do not agree with this. The
test revealed a -significant difference between these categories of responses with contingency coefficient and P value (CC=0.454;
P=0.001).
Verification of Hypothesis
H0: BSNL & other private telecom companies do not differ significantly in their marketing strategies.
H1: BSNL & other private telecom companies differ significantly in their marketing strategies.
Table-9: ANOVA Test Statistics
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total

Sum of Squares
d.f.
Mean Square
445.392
3
148.464
1975.920
121
16.330
2421.312
124
Sources: Authors Compilation

F
9.092

Significance
0.000

Table-10: Descriptive Statistics


SP
Airtel
Idea
BSNL
Vodafone
Total

N
Mean
Std. Deviation
25
32.7200
4.49555
25
32.0000
3.47611
50
36.0400
3.55114
25
31.9600
4.92849
125
33.7520
4.41890
Sources: Authors Compilation

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The data in the table reveals that there is a significant difference among the opinions of the employees of the BSNL and other
private service providers which is confirmed by the contingency value and P value for the each statement, except for the
statements We will not delay in activating service on purchase and We conduct exit interview to the customers and their
feedback is taken seriously.
The analysis shows the results of the statement, which deal with the marketing strategies by telecom, service providers. The F
value and P value are 9.092 and 0.000(P<0.05) respectively. The data reveals that there is a significant difference in marketing
strategies of telecom service providers irrespective of private or public. Results of ANOVA support the findings of the
contingency coefficient value and the P value.
Hence, the null hypotheses BSNL & other private telecom companies do not differ significantly in their marketing
strategies is rejected and the alternative hypothesis BSNL & other private telecom companies differ significantly in their
marketing strategies is not rejected.
Findings with respect to Marketing Strategies of Telecom Companies
The opinions of the employees of BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea differ for all the statements except for we will not delay in
activating service on purchase and conducting lost customer survey to take feedback. The opinion of employees varies with
respect to advertisement effectiveness, website support, customer satisfaction survey, customer loyalty programs, and distribution
channels. So marketing strategies of the firm differs with public and private companies:

Idea employees feels that there advertisements are innovative and compliment the sales where less employees of BSNL
feels so.
It is found that, all the employees Airtel feel that their website is informative & supportive to the sales. Whereas very
less number of BSNL employees feels so
It is found that, Airtel SIM cards are available at all possible locations where it is least with the idea.
It is found that, the opinions of the employees are similar for the statement we will not delay in activating service on
purchase
Airtel conducts frequent surveys to understand the satisfaction level of the customers whereas it is less practiced in
Idea.
Exit interview of the customers who leaves the service is conducted in Airtel where it is less practiced in Vodafone.
Analyzing the reason for customer churn is done in Idea where as it is less practiced in Vodafone compare to other
service providers.
More number of loyalty programs is conducted in Airtel and it is less with Vodafone compare to other service
providers.
It is found that all the service providers are running customers loyalty programs, which are more with idea with 76%
and least with Vodafone 44%.

The ANOVA test with F value and P value are 9.092 and 0.000(P<0.05) indicates that , the null hypotheses BSNL & other
private telecom companies do not differ significantly in their marketing strategies is rejected and the alternative hypothesis
BSNL & other private telecom companies differ significantly in their marketing strategies is accepted
CONCLUSION
The ultimate objective of any marketing activity is to satisfy the customers and today even a step ahead i.e., delighting the
customers. For which customers are offered something beyond their expectations from the service or the product. The objective
being to acquire and retain the customers, who should continually feel that they are getting more value of the money, they are
departing with. Marketing is the establishment, development, maintenance and optimization of long-term mutually valuable
relationships between consumers and organisations. Successful marketing focuses on understanding the needs, desires of the
customers, and is achieved by placing these needs at the heart of business by integrating them with the organisations strategy,
people, technology and business processes. At its most basic, marketing involves customers, organisations and relationships and
the combination creates the need for the management.
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