Spain-based international operator Telefónica has announced the launch of a friends’ referral scheme to help boost uptake of its Tuenti Movil MVNO service in Ecuador. Under the offer, any Tuenti prepaid customer can access their account online and send an invitation to friends via email, Facebook or Twitter. The friend who sets up a Tuenti account and as the friend who made the referral each receives US $5.00 in promotional credit. Tuenti Ecuador offers a series of data-focused prepaid plans, ranging from a 7-day bundle with 100 MB of data, 15 minutes of calls and 15 SMS for US $5.00 to a 30-day bundle with 400 MB of data, 60 minutes of calls and 60 SMS for US $15.00.
The MVNO market in Ecuador is in its infancy; when Telefónica, which operates under the brand name of Movistar there, launched Tuenti there in June 2015, it was the first MVNO in the country. There are currently no independent MVNOs in Ecuador. So while Tuenti has no direct competitors, it still needs to establish itself in a marketplace that is unused to such offerings. In order to distinguish itself from Movistar’s other offerings, as well as from those of competitor MNOs, Tuenti has emphasized the social media angle with unlimited zero-rated WhatsApp and Facebook usage. This brand identity harmonizes well with a socially driven promotion campaign such as this friends’ referral scheme, which operates via social media, as well as email. We believe that it is particularly persuasive, in that the amounts of credit received for a referral is quite large in the context of Tuenti’s prepaid tariffs, since it is equivalent to a week’s worth of services. In addition, the fact that both the referred friend and the one making the referral get a credit makes the offer even more attractive.