#SocialThrowback2020 Counting BFSI Marketing Trends with Scam 1992’s Harshad Mehta

BFSI sector marketing #SocialThrowback

As we move towards the end of 2020, the flawed genius, Harshad Mehta from the recent web-series Scam 1992 takes you through the evolution of marketing trends in the BFSI sector this year.

As the nation was gearing up to herald a year of growth and prosperity, little did they expect a pandemic swooshing over their plans to bring forth an era of innovation and change, especially in one of the driving sectors of the A & M Industry – BFSI brands for 2020.

With Drama as the theme for our Social Throwback series, who better than Harshad Mehta –  the flawed genius from one of the most popular web series of 2020 to narrate the story of A&M in the BFSI sector improving and adapting to these unprecedented times.

As Harshad said, “Ab Meri Tarah Risk Se Ishq Hai, Toh Kood Padho. Ya toh Dooboge Ya Udoge”, BFSI brands sure seemed to agree. At a time, which was unforeseen by anybody in the world, the collective response of BFSI brands in the crisis paved way for newer and innovative solutions, going beyond providing services in a buyer-seller relationship.

Business Mein Saturation Aata Hai, Dimag mein thodi? Wo Toh chalta rehta hai na!”

2020 started with the most significant quarter for the BFSI industry. However, in March 2020 the pandemic took over and BFSI brands like the rest of the sectors had to adapt.

With share market and stock prices fluctuating, and financial doubts looming over the customers, the initial days of pandemic saw customers rallying more towards trusted brands, shared, Anika Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, and Director – Digital Business at Max Bupa.

As Harshad Mehta echoes, “Business Mein Saturation Aata Hai, Dimag Mein Thodi”, and creative solutions driven with the help of digital media and sheer creativity kept the industry going. Marketing tactics moved towards social media capped with targeted offerings and customized communications, paving the way for digital acceleration.

Abhinav Iyer, General Manager, Marketing & Strategy, The Muthoot Group shared that being ‘Digital by Design’ became increasingly the new norm as the pandemic set in.

One of the prominent trends is the ever-increasing use of multiple marketing tools and platforms for customer outreach initiatives, especially the ones that leverage AI, ML, and deep tech, shared, Prabhakar Tiwari, CMO, Angel Broking Ltd.

The later part of the year showed more promise. As it is said that the show must go on, the festivities brought new hopes and aspirations, with the IPL 2020 season.

According to M.V.S.Murthy, Head  – Marketing & Digital, Tata Asset Management till September 2020, there was a downward spiral.  He said, “The onset of the festival season saw some brands making their presence felt across TV / Print and by October even outdoors got a lift. IPL uncorked the pent-up demand and gave a rallying point for advertisers to come back to television.”

With almost 70-80% of campaign budgets being devoted to IPL campaigns, many brands leveraged celebrities from Bollywood and Sports to garner eyeballs amidst the clutter.

The year 2020 also witnessed a growth in the Fintech start-up campaigns. Cred campaigns during IPL 2020 became talk of the town. Khatabook also took an important marketing stance in IPL.

Building data-capabilities for BFSI brands was another noticeable trend at an unpredictable time. Agarwal pointed out that the brands leveraged social media for customized communications for consumers relevant to their point in the purchase journey.

BFSI marketing saw a transition from presenting offerings to need-based strategies with the launch of Virtual Bots to solving queries of the people.For example, Mr.Simple by Tata Mutual Funds- a virtual BoT to direct the audience to varied branches for their service requirements.

Be it launching mobile ATM vans, or being mobile-first in their approach, the marketers attempted to help their audience in the most optimum manner.

Further, following trends emerged:

  • Continuing with the Mobile-first approach
  • Building a robust ORM and CRM system with data capabilities
  • Digitization of most offline facilities.
  • Generating awareness, education, and goodwill for the brand during the crisis.

Consumer Behavior – “Mujhe Jaan Jaoge Toh Maan Jaoge”

Rising uncertainty led consumers to become smart shoppers, largely seeking value for money through discounts and coupons, express the experts. At such a time, understanding the customers and the consumer journey became of utmost importance.

“For a category like insurance which saw in increase in demand, we also a shortening of the purchase cycles,” Agarwal highlighted.

As customers’ well-being and value-based services came at the centre for the marketers, they continued to be choosy about their content and media consumption, preferring transparency and value-for-money over anything else.

The period also saw the emergence of a core sect of target audience – the millennials from Tier 2 & 3 cities with a majority of youth population concentrated in the areas. Tapping on the platforms where they might be present, BFSI brands also leveraged TikTok (before the ban) to capture this market.

Another important trend in consumer behavior was need for awareness and education to help fill their knowledge gap across financial topics. They were now looking to amplify their earnings and turned towards stocks. Tiwari says, “Angel Broking focussed on imparting consumer education through various campaigns based on our core positioning of Aage Badhne ka Smart Sauda.”

The DIY quotient amongst Customers also increased. The Brands observed a significant increase in Digital Transactions.  Murthy puts forth that by the end of the FY they would nearly be 3X of last year on digital platforms.

Media Mix and Role of digital media – “Aaj Ka Hero Kal Ka Bhagwan Bann Sakta Hai

According to a DAN report, the biggest spenders on digital media were BFSI (42%), followed by Consumer Durables (38%) and E-commerce (37%) in 2019.

Apart from leveraging social media that emerged as the ‘Hero’ during these times, BFSI brands lapped on to the OTT opportunities, too. Agarwal shared that Max Bupa promoted their campaign on TV and also on OTT platforms like Hotstar during IPL 2020.

Muthoot team aimed to continue with their winning formula of 360 degrees approach with media budgets deployed into radio, Television, and OOH, along with digital.

“Podcasts are another form of media we want to leverage. There will be a few outings with the outdoor media largely driven by the support of our colleagues in sales need. Contactless platforms like BoT and Whatsapp Commerce will be given a heft,” shared Murthy.

Most of the BFSI brands largely aimed to focus on both, rural and urban areas while planning the media channels with a 360 degrees approach.

Harshad Mehta ponders and says, “Aaj Ka Hero, Kal Ka Bhagwan Bhi Bann Sakta Hai.” Overall, digital media and major communication touchpoints emerged as the hero for BFSI brands and stand the potential to become an even more important marketing medium in the coming year.

Also read: #SocialThrowback2020: A year of acing mobile UI, Audio Ads & short videos for YouTube

Marketing Strategy & Social Media Play- “Market Mein Sabse Bada Jokhim, Jokhim Na Lene Mein Hai”

As few months passed, marketers emerged as risk-takers, focussed on innovation, and new tools. Harshad Mehta smiles at this, saying, “Market Mein Sabse Bada Jokhim, Jokhim Na Lene Mein Hai”. BFSI brands seem to pay heed to this notion while focussing on sharing meaningful messages, and also leveraging newer trends. For example, During lockdown days, Max Bupa tied up with the Shilpa Shetty app for fitness tips and trends along with customized content with doctors on COVID-19.

Leveraging celebrity brands and partnership with IPL teams were additional trend observed, especially in the latest season of the league. The Muthoot group capitalized on Brand Amitabh Bachchan and Principal Team Partnership with IPL’s leading team Chennai Super Kings to grow their Social Media Community & drive engagement.

Some of the key tactics adopted during this period included – Influencer and moment marketing for driving awareness, prominent services such as free consultation and medical advice for customers by doctors through social media, remarketing campaigns using look-alike & custom audiences on Facebook, and more. Demystifying financial jargons with ‘Did-you-know’ campaigns through videos, animations, quizzes, and other content formats were some of the tactics that took lead.

COVID-19 also brought a new wave of purpose and cause-based advertisements by the brands. Thus, causevertising through video and vernacular across regions was another major trend that the BFSI brands banked on.

Evolved Measurement Metrics

With newer social media tactics, new measurement metrics too, have come in for the BFSI sector.

Agarwal highlights that at Max Bupa, first-click attribution is very important. So, the brand has combined their data with first-party data to build a first-click attribution model to get a real cost of acquisition and ROI for all our campaigns.

Murthy adds that across the brand’s B2C, B2B, and B2B2C engagements, the measurement parameters go beyond reach, page views, unique users, etc.  “Our marketing team can clearly attribute the impact and contribution to Gross Sales, fresh funds added to the book, contribution to SIP Book, etc.”, he shares.

On the other hand, at Angel Broking, Tiwari shares that apart from growing their marketing channel network, they also started leveraging a suite of AI- and ML-based planning and optimization tools for advanced insights and analytics across the marketing funnel. This helped the brand achieve newer leads and user acquisitions.

Dubey quips that from the classic survey-based measurements to the interaction and action-based measurements has been an interesting journey. “Over a period of time, we too have evolved to combine the strategic brand objectives of awareness, preference and trust with the modern way of measuring digital marketing.”

Way Forward – “History Banana Ke Liye Sabko Sath Mein Leke Chalna Hota Hai

As we move forward, BFSI brands plan to focus on contextual and relevant communication, in-line with the social media trends, betting more than half of their marketing spends on digital and innovation. As Harshad rightly pointed out: “Success kya hai? Failure ke Baad Ka Naya chapter.” Experts too opine that adversity is another name for the opportunity and plan to go forward with the learnings from this unprecedented year.

To sum it up, the following trends for BFSI marketing will continue on the road to 2021:

  • Bullish on video and regional content
  • A Healthy mix of creating awareness and campaigns to garner ROI
  • Focus on content, driven by Data and 3Vs- Voice, Video, and Vernacular
  • Regional marketing strategy to target the youth in Tier 2 & 3 cities
  • Collaboration with influencers and micro-influencers for specific targeting

The end of an unprecedented year will mark the beginning of a New Year with a very New Normal.


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