Ready for takeoff – How to quickly launch a fighter brand

It’s been said that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout have been trying for individuals and companies alike. Faced with uncertainty moving forward, many consumers are increasingly cost-conscious, shifting from the premium to the essential. At the same time, revenues for CSPs are moving away from traditional offerings to digital services.  Each of these issues can be addressed by launching a fighter brand, not only successfully, but quickly.


The basics

Fighter brands are sub-brands within an existing CSP, such as Cricket Wireless and AT&T in the United States or giffgaff and O2 in the United Kingdom. These fighter brands are often experimental and innovative, aimed at capturing a specific market segment like budget-oriented consumers or specific demographics. These brands are also more likely to try out new business models such as self-care channels or integrated partner catalogs.

A fighter brand begins capturing market share by standing out among the competition. Typically, they do so by offering the lowest-price plans, blending new digital services with traditional offerings and giving customers more control through enhanced self-care channels. Customers are growing increasingly tech-savvy, and want more from their plans, including gaming, streaming and extended entertainment options.


The roadblocks

A fighter brand’s aim is twofold: get to market as quickly as possible, and at minimal cost. In the past, launching a fighter brand has been a costly endeavor because it required a new staff to support the brand and the implementation of a dizzying array of IT systems. Building a fighter brand team is challenging as the right mix of industry experience and an entrepreneurial spirit is critical.

Fighter brands starting from scratch are looking for a scalable, lower-risk model. Alternatively, they can be managed from existing IT systems, but these weren’t built with support for the new brand’s objectives in mind and can introduce a higher cost basis that crushes the brand’s profitability. CSPs can also lease their network to another third-party MVNO, which comes with less risk to them, but also less financial reward.


The opportunity

According to the World Economic Forum, CSPs can earn about $142 billion in profit by monetizing digital services, including video and entertainment, by 2025. Time is of the essence and now is the perfect time for CSPs to launch a fighter brand. While more than 210 mobile sub-brands were introduced by mid-2019, they account for a mere 1.5 percent of mobile users globally. The window of opportunity in our socially distanced world is wide open.


The Roadmap

There are several essential capabilities CSPs need in place if they are to launch a profitable and successful fighter brand. First, they need a compelling set of services that will meet today’s expectations of “essential” mobile capability.

In addition, fighter brands need strong mobile BSS capabilities, including real-time, low latency charging for prepaid plans or other entitlement depreciation with an emphasis on self-care capabilities. While the BSS basics have to be there, it is critical that heavy legacy “like-for-like” functionality and its associated cost be avoided. The best solution will feature a cloud-native software-as-a-service (SaaS) architecture to minimize both upfront and ongoing costs, as well as the inherent operational risk of running an on-premise solution.

To be successful, CSPs need to stop building to, and paying for, hypothetical peak capacity when launching brands. Instead, they should opt for a pay-as-you-scale model. By only paying for what they consume, they can effectively manage the economics of the entire venture, minimize startup costs and ramp up capacity as they grow. Finally, CSPs need an innovative platform that is “fully loaded,” including mobile capabilities and out-of-the-box potential that can keep up with their innovative offerings.

As CSPs start this journey, they can look to others who are already succeeding with sub-brands. For example, CSG worked with a European CSP to launch a customer-centric, digital fighter brand. They worked with CSG to map every part of their customer journey, which was automated with Journey Orchestration. Then, they deployed Ascendon, our cloud-native, SaaS digital monetization solution with real-time rating and charging for any transaction. With these solutions in place, they were able to go from contract to production in eight months, elastically scale to support peaks in transaction volumes and fully automate customer care.

Times of uncertainty, like an economic downturn or a global pandemic, can foster innovation through a renewed focus on the essentials. CSPs can prepare themselves and cover their bases by successfully launching a fighter brand. By using an innovative, pay-as-you-scale, fully managed SaaS solution that features strong mobile capabilities, CSPs can outpace the competition in the race to launch the next big fighter brand.

This post originally appeared in TM Forum Inform