In this episode of Samosa Talks, our panelists delve into the changing consumer mindsets, brand communications, and everything that shapes the new normal for BFSI marketing.
Five months into the pandemic, consumers have adapted the new normal, but have not accepted it. Financials are playing a bigger role than ever in their lives surrounded by uncertainties and job security risks. We deconstruct the state of BFSI Marketing in this scenario.
Sonia Notani, CMO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance
Jahid Ahmed, VP & Head – Digital Marketing, HDFC Bank
Abhik Sanyal, VP & Head – Consumer Marketing, DSP Mutual Fund
Several businesses and job opportunities are at a pause, but expenses are not, and health has become the utmost priority of consumers along with food & shelter.
With changed priorities and media consumption, in conversation with the panelists, we analyze the insights from the current consumer behavior, adoption of this change, and the new normal for marketing in the banking, financial services, and insurance industry.
The New Normal
Sonia Notani says the new normal has been tried, tested, and repeated in the past 5 months. People have become more sensitized to the fact that mortalities can hit them, they are more emotionally driven.
Insurance as a category is seeing more prioritization with increased searches. She adds, “Exploration is happening, advocacy is still needed. Our engagement programs have seen a lot of responses. We have seen a paradigm shift towards digital, people are more open to the medium (now).
Jahid Ahmed mentions, “The new normal is old now”. Health Care will be big in these days. Channels of consumption of media have changed. Presently, HDFC Bank is striving to get the consumer’s journey seamless with digital assistance.
For Abhik Sanyal, the new normal is “thoughtfulness”. He stresses on being more thoughtful with brand communications and advertising activities. Digital has become the top language, and changes have become more observable.
For a marketer, every day is the new normal, but being considerate and thoughtful is important because things that you usually plan for do not exist anymore.
The New Consumer
Jahid mentions the consumers are now worried about their health more, they have become more health & fitness conscious, this will also result in a key change of more consumers purchasing insurance.
Employment and financial security are on top of their mind. With every other Indian organization working from home, which was earlier an MNC culture, two-three laptops/desktops in a single household is a need now, which leads to items that were considered a luxury in the pre-COVID world, now becoming a necessity.
He adds, in such times, brands should not go overboard. Their approach is understanding the consumers’ world.
Abhik shares the consumer is more or less the same, with the problems they face, and their mindset. But with the uncertain times, from a management point of view, what could be ignored earlier cannot be ignored now.
Brands have to be more solution-oriented and give the new consumer a sense of confidence and control.
Sonia reckons that although people will not go out of their way to buy it, but there is a higher demand for protection & health covers, even if the returns are lower, it is a priority.
She adds the company fundamentally caters to consumers who are slightly on the older side and have money to invest, who essentially are digital migrants but are steadily becoming more accustomed to the medium.
While they stick to the platform they are comfortable with and won’t go out of their way, except for metro cities where consumers explore more.
The New Communication
The new normal and the new consumer, also calls for new communication, marketing and advertising cannot only be product-integrated and sales-driven anymore, brands also need to be sensitive to the current times.
Abhik says all brands need a degree in applied linguistics, while some brands have become a natural part of the consumers’ journey, several continue to struggle.
For instance, numerous promotional emails have no contextual relation with their subject, copy, and CTA. Many a times problems are created out of thin air just to plug a product in. This cannot happen anymore.
The newer generations are becoming smarter and inquisitive, and this change will continue to persist. The new communication needs to take all of this into account.
Educating people constantly, testing thoughtfully, taking the right decision even if it goes against profitability, and communicating that decision, gets positive reactions from people.
He also emphasizes on more specified communications. “If you are saying anything to everybody, you are not saying anything to anybody”.
Additionally, he shares an important aspect for design is blank spaces, and for marketing is silence, one should choose to remain silent if no value can be added with the communication.
Sonia believes the long term association with the consumer is very important, and you cannot be sounding pushy as a brand. Proactively communicating with the consumers, comforting them, and simplifying some of the communication is also very critical.
On the outreach front, education is significant and answering consumers’ questions. Ensuring distributors are digitally enabled is also a must.
She adds the brand stuck to their core narrative during these times, tapped into micro-markets, went district level, held webinars educating the consumers and answering their questions, and tried to sell hope, not fear, and leave a positive memory behind.
Jahid explains the brand did ORM listening and found that there was a lot of anxiety around health, job, and more uncertainties which led to deteriorating mental health.
So the social media pillars, which were built on ‘pay, save, borrow’ in the pre-COVID world had now become ‘assurance, convenience, thought leadership,’ and products had to take a backseat.
He adds the brand attempted to work as as an enabler of consumers’ needs, & not as a primary need, and a plus was not going media dark and putting out relevant content and communications.
With the help of risk & propensity models, and an empathetic creative approach, a more consumer-centric communication can be created, instead of product-centric, whether or not a consumer has a digital footprint.
The New Direction
The time has come that we become a part of the consumers’ journey, and not seek the consumer to become a part of our journey.
Invest in the right set of tools, orchestrate the deluged digital traffic, and remain empathetic.
Give consumers a sense of control and confidence. Treat them as humans, not just data points, they are very real, unlike The Matrix.