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09 Jul 18

How to understand the real needs of Asians in Thailand

dtac has an estimated 80 percent market share with migrant workers in Thailand. Here’s the secret sauce to capturing new niches.

  • Today, an estimated 4 to 5 million migrants are working in Thailand. More than 80% are dtac customers.
  • Similarly, 70% of Chinese tourists who buy Thai local sims use dtac during their holidays here.
  • This market share was achieved using a customer-centric approach to rapidly innovate and scale new products.

This is a guest post by Tippamas Kaysee is VP, Head of Prepaid Migrant & Tourist Segment Department.

Last May, as footballer Aung Thu scored a 93rd-minute goal for Police Tero, Fox News Asia tweeted, “Has there been a better new signing than the Myanmar star this season?” I’d add a broader point to that question. Those who overlook the formidable potential of Asian migrants and visitors in Thailand do so at their own peril.

dtac is very much focused on the combined might of the 2.5 million Myanmar people living here. That’s why we chose Aung Thu as our brand ambassador. Like dtac’s migrant customers from Myanmar, Aung Thu came here to work hard and support his family back home. To better understand this demographic, but also those of Cambodian migrants and Chinese tourists, my team has had to change how we work, take more risks, get closer to our customers, and rapidly scale what works.


Working with the right influencers, like Aung Thu, is an important factor to stake dtac’s dominance in these demographics. But our customizations go well beyond skin-deep. Menus and notifications are all translated. Rates to call back home are the best in the market. Distribution channels are carefully tailored to each segment.

Over the years, we have had to continuously evolve to be more agile and daring. As part of these changes, we embraced design thinking to better understand niche markets and create solutions specifically tailored to them. While our first step was making SIMs with packaging and instructions fully translated into Burmese and Cambodian, we then spent a lot of time speaking to customers in these segments and deepening our insights.

Today, our competitors have woken up to the huge market migrants represent, but they still struggle to catch up with us because our understanding of Asian migrants and visitors goes well beyond translation.

In China and other international markets, we work directly with online travel agents--a project we undertook with dtac accelerate start-up TakeMeTour before scaling it with larger operators. For foreign workers from Cambodia or Myanmar, we instead focus on the fresh markets they frequent most often. No two demographics will require the same approach.

Even dtac’s famous dtac reward program has been fine-tuned to our customers’ various needs. When sending almost every baht you make back home, a discount for Swensen’s ice cream might not be a welcome treat. Instead, we give migrant workers printed coupons redeemable at their local grocers. As for Chinese tourists, we offer eight-day travel insurance and integrated payments with Alipay.

We are constantly innovating and rolling out new solutions. dtac even has a disruptive new data package that provides roaming in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia at local rates (100 baht for 2GB), so our migrant customers can browse the internet while visiting their families back home. But what matters most is the process by which we develop these services. To conquer a new niche, make sure you truly understand it. In the digital era, design thinking should be at the heart of every effort to better serve customers.


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