Creating Awareness and Understanding of Mobile Money in DRC

Marketing mobile money presents many challenges to mobile operators who are used to marketing airtime. The customer journey from unawareness to regular use presents many obstacles not least because there can be a complete lack of knowledge of the service and its various benefits or simply misconceptions about both. As a result, operators need to choose their marketing strategies very carefully in order to firstly develop awareness and to secondly educate customers. MMU’s previous publication, “Driving Customer Usage of Mobile Money for the Unbanked,” explains the entire customer journey; however, in this blog, I’ll only revisit the first two steps.

Tigo Cash recently launched in the DRC and as mobile money is only in its infancy in this country, Tigo could not rely on the market’s prior awareness or understanding [1]. Tigo needed to start from the beginning and to develop awareness and build understanding, they relied on an effective and localized Above-The-Line (ATL) strategy. It is important to remember that ATL communications is just one of many effective tools available to operators and this must be coupled with equally effective Below-The-Line campaigns

Developing Awareness

The target market was selected on the basis of being both early adopters and easily addressable – young urban students – and then the mobile money service was positioned accordingly. Tigo needed to drive the Tigo Cash message to their target population. To do this, they used a teaser advertisement to create a buzz and generate interest. The advertisement excited their target market by saying “It’s coming soon” and introducing the “Ca$h-Moi” or “Ca$h Me” tagline. The format used also provided an introduction to the colour, styling and branding to be used by the service. While this teaser strategy is often used for pre-product launches, what Tigo Cash DRC did next was more insightful from a market analysis and segmentation perspective.

Building Understanding

The communication strategy to build understanding of the service involved recruiting JB Mpiana, one of the DRC’s best-selling artists. JB and Tigo created a new song and video explaining the Tigo Cash Service and how it operates. JB delivers a catchy tune and sings about tapping the USSD string used to access the service, *123#, and the simplicity, speed and security of the service. The backing vocalists sing a harmony slogan of “Tigo Cash” and the lyrics explains some situations where Tigo Cash can be used.  In this way, the main objectives of an ATL campaign are met; the service is introduced, explained and the primary benefits are presented.

JB then performed a free concert in Kinshasa at the launch of the Tigo Cash Service. Jonathan Johannesen from Tigo Cash, DRC saw the numbers of registered users rise by 50% in the week following the release of the song and the free concert. Heavy daily circulation on the national radio channels has also helped to build awareness.

Customer Journey Remains Incomplete

As an example of market analysis and marketing communications, the start exhibited by Tigo DRC has been very encouraging. They used simple messaging and a popular cultural icon to develop awareness and build understanding. While Tigo Cash in the DRC is a young service, there is huge potential in the market and Jonathan has exciting plans – which I hope to revisit – to continue to bring his subscribers through the customer journey.


[1] There are two other mobile money services in the DRC: Airtel Money from Bharti Airtel and M-Pesa from Vodacom

Join the Conversation (2 comments)

  • Tukashaba Saul says:

    ATL marketing is okey but most of the effort needs to be put on building the agent network and having teams of foot soldiers/ registration agents attached to these agents or regional service centres. the agents/ registration agents will drive service registrations, customer education and finally usage than anything else.

  • Liton Kumer Saha says:

    Building customer engagement to reduce OBO is quite tough through agent as they are involved in multi-businesses… Focus group development (influencer) can be a way forward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.