Abhinav Iyer on how The Muthoot Group is redefining Gold loans in Indian context through marketing…

Muthoot Group Redefining Gold loans

Gold in India is usually a family heirloom, an investment, to be departed with only as a last resort. In conversation with Social Samosa, Abhinav Iyer of The Muthoot Group shares how the brand is redefining gold loans as a smart resort and not a last resort.

The Muthoot Group has skewed most of its marketing efforts around redefining gold loans through its marketing and communication strategy which primarily leverages radio, television, and digital.

The brand recently launched season 2 of  ‘Sunheri Soch’ – a compilation of five real-life stories of individuals, who realized their dreams by availing a gold loan from Muthoot Finance. Sharing its promotional strategy, Abhinav Iyer, General Manager, Marketing and Strategy, The Muthoot Group, discusses the future growth plans of the brand and its plans of leveraging influencers too. 

It is looking at a growth of 15% in its book size from the last financial year. Iyer says, “Instead of making substantial growth and facing the heat, we have been making consistent and healthy growth, year on year.”


What exactly is the objective behind the Sunheri Soch Season -2 campaign and what kind of RoI would you be looking at?

The objective of Sunheri Soch is something to do with the kind of lives we touch of people through our branches.

Unfortunately, not many people have not traditionally looked at gold loans since it has been portrayed as a measure of last resort. In the last ten years, we have come up with a series of communications, which has aimed at projecting gold loan, not as a measure of last resort, but a measure of the smart resort, a smart loan and have been able to bring out that attitudinal transformation. 

Both seasons one and two of Sunheri Soch also had that objective to inspire people to listen to these amazing inspiring stories of common people with extraordinary tenacity, determination, and timely help from us how they realize their dreams. On radio, storytelling is quite an established pattern.

Would there be any more seasons to this campaign? 

We want to make it an IP property. We feel that this season will create a significant impact, both in terms of getting new customers into the category and also in terms of growing the category as a whole. 

What exactly would be the promotional strategy for the current season? What sort of investment went behind your campaign?

The dissemination of these stories is definitely going to be on radio and digital in a big way. Because these are audio stories and hence, they will be played across five weeks five stories, with one story getting launched every Monday, at nine o’clock in the morning across 36 radio stations of Red FM. In digital, we are not only presenting the stories in an audio format, but we are also creating a video format for each story.

The same is also posted on the official platforms of Muthoot Finance YouTube, Facebook, plus Red FM’s social media platforms. The content is also available on Jiosaavn, Apple podcast, Spotify, Gaana.

For promotions, we are going to go big on print, a strong ground-level activation across our branches, and OOH. We are also doing an exciting contest where more of our customers can also share their stories. It’s a 360-degree marketing campaign including regional ads across regional publications, impact properties on TV, and cinema among others. 

Please take us through the media blueprint of the campaign

70% would actually go into radio and digital. The remaining 30% of our investments are going into the other promotional mediums.

This also aligns with our overall marketing strategy for the brand.

What was the impact of the Covid-19 on the brand’s marketing and communication strategy?

At the time of the pandemic, our communication was to get people back to avail loans, because those were difficult times and most of the financial institutions were a little reluctant to lend because repayment was a concern. But in our case, we encouraged people to come and avail themselves of gold loans since it is very secured lending and also something which is readily available. However, there was an attitude gap that they had to bridge.

For us, it was the communication was predominantly to nudge and urge people to come to our branches, or from a product development perspective, we launched Muthoot Finance Gold Loan at home in the middle of the pandemic, and since then, we have seen a considerable uptake of this new digital product or convenience product. Our communication has always been to grow the category bringing new people into the ambit of gold lending. Amid the pandemic, we launched our campaign #GoldLoanIsGood. 

How is radio advertising reaping benefits for the brand?

We never invested in radio before Sunheri Soch because pureplay FCT has never been rewarding for us and never created a desired business result. We curated content specifically for radio since storytelling is a well-established concept for this medium. One has to serve the content specific to the medium.

How do you see BFSI brands leveraging traditional mediums this year? Have the ad rates for these mediums come back to the pre-pandemic levels?

I am already seeing OOH picking up. OOH is a brilliant medium. OOH has always been an integral part of our media mix and I see advertisers definitely coming to this medium. The good thing is we have partners like Mindshare, they have always worked favourably. 

How would you define your digital marketing strategy and what role does social media play?

Digital is more than 10% of our overall ad spends.

Digital in the last three years has grown its stature for us as a brand. We have a very strong social media presence and engagement strategy in place with interesting content. Our association with Amitabh Bachchan has also helped us in growing our social community. In the last three-four years, we have consistently grown our social media presence in terms of investments, budget and we will keep increasing it. Being a financial services conglomerate, we actively promote all of our services and products via these platforms.

We are present on all the platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a decent presence on LinkedIn. We have more than 13 lakh followers on Facebook, which is one of the biggest in the gold loan space.

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What kind of metrics do you leverage to measure the RoI on these platforms?

On social media, engagement is the only and the key metric that we look at. The growth of the number of followers and subscribers also helps us gauge the RoI.  For performance marketing, it is the leads and conversions.

Which format of content has worked best for the brand?

Most of the content is made with TV in mind since more than 45% of our ad spends are skewed towards this medium. ATL mediums are critical for us and hence most of the content we create is in line with TV. Having said that, we also curate customized content for digital audiences.

What are your plans for this year to associate with the marquee properties?

We were with Chennai Superkings earlier and even Delhi Daredevils for four years and then we took a short break. We have been associated with Indian Soccer League as well and have also been the sponsors for Pro Kabaddi League.

Unfortunately, we had to take a break amid the pandemic and we did not renew our association with any of these properties since the stadiums were empty and gratification is important for us.

Customer experience, data protection, and social consciousness will be the three dominant trends for the BFSI sector in 2022. How do you plan to function along these lines? 

We comply with all the RBI and other regulatory guidelines. Trust for us comes from when dealing with all the stakeholders and not only from the customers. We are very compliant, strict with our internal processes and corporate governance standards.

What marketing trends do you foresee in the BFSI category for this year?

Influencer marketing will definitely be a bigger trend and certainly, there is merit in this. We would like to explore this in the coming times, it is something we haven’t explored at length but would like to. Also, I believe there is a lot of potential in rural marketing, especially with the increased penetration of financial services at the rural level. More than 70% of our branches are in semi-urban and rural areas.