#TheSocialCMO Data & digital help build efficient chain of personalized offerings: Pankaj Gupta, HDFC Life

Pankaj Gupta HDFC Life

Creating human-centric stories with an aim to spread positivity, HDFC Life’s marketing strategy has been to create affiliation for the brand. Pankaj Gupta divulges more details.

HDFC Life observed a greater degree of consumer need for term plans and launched a campaign highlighting term offerings and other key strengths like high claim settlement ratio. The last few months saw the Banking brand has seen an evolution in their marketing approach owing to the changing consumer needs and behavior. Pankaj Gupta – Senior Executive Vice President (sales) and Chief Marketing Officer, HDFC LIFE speaks at length about the company’s social media strategy, marketing efforts, the impact of influencer-led campaigns, and more.


The BFSI sector witnessed a new wave of communication patterns during the pandemic last year. What was it for HDFC Life?

Life insurance has typically been considered a push product. This also reflects in the low penetration of insurance in our country. The events of the last year have, though, made us all rethink and realize the importance of effective financial planning. More individuals now realize the need for an adequate life and health insurance.

At HDFC Life, we have been recalibrating our approach dynamically to adapt to the changing environment. Initially, our marketing strategy was to ensure that we remained relevant by simply engaging with our consumers and finding ways to enable them to make their financial decisions in an informed manner.

Our research showed the emergence of human stories of resilience with people across the globe overcoming challenges during this pandemic. We built this insight into our latest campaign on how it is easier to bounce back and chart a new path to success if one is proactive in one financial planning.

What are your views on changing consumer behaviour towards online insurance in India?

Covid-19 has brought about a phase of rapid evolution that impacts not only consumer behavior but everything from customer, category, economy, to the way of doing business. The pandemic made the adoption of digital solutions a necessity. Hence, digital and online transactions have accelerated like never before. They have helped businesses stay connected, grow, or, in some cases, survive the tough period.

Personalization is the key to the future of insurance marketing – Your comment and how do you strategize to implement the formula in the marketing blueprint?

Today the customer lives in a hyper-personalized world where he/she is offered products and services right at his/her doorstep. The power of data and digital help build an efficient chain of personalized offerings for every customer segment. We are already working on various initiatives that help us nudge the customer basis their life stage needs and we continue to foray deeper into this by strengthening our tech capabilities. There is the element of personalizing the experience both on the need as well as the suitability of the product, channel, communication, language, etc.

What has been the impact of #Decision2Protect campaign executed in December 2020 in terms of brand reach and ranking in fresh consumers?

We launched the #Decision2Protect testimonial campaign to showcase the need for term plans through the stories and experiences of our very own customers. With the pandemic impacting millions of lives, every individual with responsibility needed some kind of assurance for themself and their family.

While there is a greater degree of realization of the need to protect the financial future of loved ones, not everyone acts on that, due to a variety of factors. We took it as our responsibility to create awareness and protect lives so that more people take the decision to protect at the right time.

The campaign had a positive impact on our key brand metrics and helped grow them significantly. We also saw a 200% lift in HDFC Life Term Plan search queries during the campaign period.

Also Read: #TheSocialCMO Purpose Marketing works great on Twitter & Instagram: Abhishek Gupta

What is the idea/ thought process behind the new campaign and how it has been received on all the platforms?

In the past year, the pandemic has tested us all in an atmosphere of uncertainty where human confidence was low and financial insecurity was endemic.

The importance of Life Insurance to protect oneself from financial setbacks was reinforced during this period of human history. Our latest brand campaign celebrates the indomitable human spirit and how financial resilience helps one to overcome challenges.

The campaign is being promoted across multi-media platforms with a focus on Television, Digital, DTH, OOH and has been well received with positive responses from the audience.

How did digital experiences and social media help you keep people hooked and hopeful? Could you tell us about some of the key campaigns in last one year?

Last year has been precarious for many of us and the general sentiment has been of fear, uncertainty, and loss. We thus created content that put the audience at ease, bringing more positivity, and showcased a brand that the audiences would want to associate with.

In relation to COVID, during the start of the lockdown, we released a series of videos on remaining safe. Then we spoke on ‘spending time in a positive manner during the lockdown, which included content from the health, learning, and financial health perspective. In addition, to encourage people to get back to a more normal life, we launched ‘Phir ek nayi shuruat‘, a series of short videos, with simple messages of hope.

On the product front, we brought to life quite a few campaigns, including the one on our Sanchay products, where we drove conversations around the certainty/guarantee that the product brought to one’s investment plans, in these uncertain times.

Content and Influencer marketing have found a prominent presence in every marketer’s guide. How has HDFC Life leveraged the trends?

With the rise of social media and word-of-mouth marketing, it is a great way to connect with customers, enhance brand awareness, and boost relevance. However, it essentially depends on whether the story has an inherent connect with the influencer.

Often, when you watch a celebrity speaking about what they faced in life, you connect with them, you start noticing what is happening in your own life. Through another’s experience you start making changes or improvements that resonate with you.

For our ‘Ye Sahi Toh Life Insurance Online Kyun Nahi?’ campaign, Manjot Singh broke the campaign on his page, leading fans back to our page. The engagement leg of the campaign saw fans sending in video snippets of themselves using poetry, music, or any creative artistic means to end a sentence with  “ye sahi, toh life insurance online kyu nahi?“. The contest organically drew over 200 videos, which spoke of the power of the influencer platform and an engaging content piece for brands.

Another interesting collaboration with influencers was for the Fathers Day campaign, which drew on the real-life father-daughter relationship of Yashaswini and Ramakant Dayama. The campaign was video-based, which drew on the all too real insight of fathers worrying over their daughters once they leave home. These feelings usually spillover into financial planning, which is where this video picks up. The actors drew in their fans with this short and relatable narrative.  

What does the marketing mix for 2021 look like for the brand and the budget allocated?

Media buying and overall strategy needed a re-look, given the changes in consumer behavior and trends. Television and a host of digital platforms have seen a spike in viewership and we believe them to be the best-suited touch-points for our current campaign communication, along with reminder media like OOH.

How would you define the ‘Marketer of Today’? How much of your marketing skills have evolved with the changing times?

The ‘Marketer of Today’ is someone who can thrive in a dynamic, fast-moving environment, by being agile and open to learning from all these changes. The marketing playbook is ever-changing and a successful marketer not only keeps pace with the new trends but also knows what the consumer and brand needs at that point, evolving the marketing mix to suit the same. Today, it is not just about the knowledge you possess but also the passion with which one can drive innovation and experiment with new channels on an ongoing basis.

I believe in being a learner for life. Also for me, the core of marketing is the consumer. For all our initiatives, we focus on the consumer with our finger on their pulse to stay relevant and inspire trust, even with the changing times.

Another critical success factor is the ability of the marketer to collaborate across organizational silos to deliver on the business objectives within the constraints, by leveraging the power and knowledge that exists across the organization.