Road to 2023: A deep dive into the world of BFSI marketing

BFSI Marketing Trends

In conversation with industry experts, Social Samosa decodes that BFSI sector through the lens of marketing. Which mediums occupy the largest pie of the media mix and which tactics work – let’s find out.

The new age fintech brands like CRED and smallcase are pushing the envelope of creativity and this development has added pressure to BFSI’s traditional models of marketing. The larger BFSI industry, which has shown bursts of creativity, is yet to catch up. 

In the recently presented Union Budget 2023-24, FM Nirmala Sitharaman also signalled the government’s intent to increase focus on technological development, artificial intelligence, and sustainability. With new technological advancements, the BFSI industry also needs to pick up its pace.

Social Samosa spoke to BFSI leaders to find out more about how they are planning to jump on the digital bandwagon, the growing importance of regional marketing, and marketing focus areas for 2023.

The Revised Marketing Blueprint

Banks are following digital consumers, who have increased dramatically after the pandemic. By mid-April of the first year of the pandemic, new mobile banking registrations peaked and were roughly 207% higher than the daily average. 

It is because of this growing trend that Kotak Mahindra Bank is aligning its efforts with digital goals. 

Karthi Marshan, President & CMO, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said, “Whatever consumers want to consume in the financial services space, we want to see how much of that we can digitize. We save a lot on costs because anything that can be digitized means we have less human cost so everybody wins again. What we are focused on is acquiring very high-quality digital talent, both in marketing as well as in technology with the digital lens.” 

Learning from last year’s consumer patterns, Karthi said that they have been focusing on serving customers better. 

Karthi said, “It’s not that customers didn’t want financial products, it’s just that we were probably forced to sell the wrong product to the wrong customer at the wrong time. In 2022, we saw the clear signs of the right answers: how you put it out, make it available, help them digitally and they are able to choose and buy. Customers are happy they bought the right thing. We are happy that we’re serving the customer.”

Piggybacking on digital talent to bridge this gap and enlighten its audience on taxes, fixed deposits, and other new services, the bank has collaborated with fintech and other influencers on multiple occasions.

The question is no more if or when a banking or financial institution will reform, but how this industry intends to do it. 

DBS Bank India went fully digital during the pandemic and observed a significant increase in customer confidence and activity, both institutional and retail. 

After the pandemic, people started visiting malls, commuting to work, and traveling for leisure, which led to the resurgence of out-of-home advertising. 

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director – Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India said, “Therefore, we started investing a lot more outdoors than we had in the previous years. And that strategy really paid off for us with significant lifts in brand awareness across the markets where we did heavy outdoor advertising.”

DBS Bank India has been finding new ways to communicate with consumers too. It launched the campaign ‘Live more, Bank less’, and to increase brand awareness, it was also seen on billboards across 18 cities. Through these billboards, the bank aimed to establish itself more like a good friend, more like a business booster, more like an award-winning techie, and less like a traditional bank.

In the past, DBS Bank India has also come up with digital-first creative campaigns. Its digital campaign ‘Chilli Paneer‘ is considered revolutionary in the BFSI marketing industry. It was followed by a mini-series, ‘Sparks’ – based on true stories of bankers. 

Going Beyond The Metros

India introduced 75 digital banking units across rural areas on October 16, 2022, with the goal of increasing financial inclusion. The initiative aims to increase financial literacy and provide financial services to more people residing in villages and small towns. 

Shilpa Desai, Executive Vice President & Head Marketing, HDFC ERGO General Insurance believes that there is an urgent need for conducting last-mile educative initiatives, as there is a low level of awareness and knowledge about the importance of risk protection against unforeseen events, and insurance ranks very low in the purchasing priority of rural consumers. 

HDFC ERGO conducted various IEC (Information, Education & Communication) activities ranging from workshops to learning & training programs across the states of Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.

This year too, Desai told Social Samosa, that the BFSI industry would focus on multilingual content, educating consumers, and enhancing the visual experience. 

She said, “Across our nation, there is a large portion of the population that consumes information and interacts with each other in native languages. This exacerbates the need for brands to focus on language content to reach a wider audience. This also fosters trust through a sense of belonging which helps boost brand loyalty.” 

Regional marketing is also a key focus area for Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, said Abhishek Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer at Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance. 

He said, “We have a huge emphasis on building regional capabilities in our communication as we have anecdotal evidence of improved customer engagement. It brings inclusivity and relatability factors to our overall customer approach, which we believe will prove beneficial to our advisory model in the longer term.”

The insurance major has a wide geographic presence, having visibility in 88 cities through 109 branches, and publishing and disseminating content in 9 languages.

In 2023, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance will keep building its regional capabilities and deep dive into specific geographies to create a more meaningful impact.

Hottest BFSI Marketing Trends For 2023

Gupta states that television has dominated advertising revenues for decades given its wider reach. 

However, the rapid growth of digital platforms and the ROI received on these platforms have also gained traction. He said, “Digital has now emerged as the medium of choice with accelerated OTT adoption, gaming, e-commerce, etc., and investment in digital ad spends has also raised. So, while TV will continue to dominate spends, we will see -continued growth in digital spends too.”

The research agency, TAM, released AdEx report on advertising in the BFSI industry that examined ad spends in the BFSI industry from January to March 2022. In comparison to January to March 2021, total advertising rates increased by 11% and the BFSI sector saw 7% volume growth in TV and digital saw an 8% rise.

BFSI marketing trends

BFSI marketing trends

This year, Narayanan is confident that a lot of integrated marketing across channels will be seen. 

She said, “With our data science capabilities across different types of organizations improving, becoming more sophisticated the seamless transition of customer experiences on customer journeys from offline to online to in-branch in the case of a bank or in-store in the case of retail that I think is going to really catapult in the coming year.”

Desai of HDFC ERGO General Insurance also believes that omnichannel marketing would be the way to go forward. 

Today, it is crucial for firms to maintain their competitiveness. While digital continues to remain a priority for marketers, it will complement and enhance the experience of physical/in-person. The sophistication of AI/ML will further blur the lines between online and offline and augment the world of ‘phygital experience’. Marketers will need to integrate technology into customer service in the approaching years to offer a distinctive experience,” said Desai. 

Ruchika Varma, CMO, Future Generali India Insurance, believes that the role of new technology in the BFSI space will continue to expand and also impact marketing strategy. 

She said, “Machine learning will breathe new life into processes such as workflow automation, claims processing, fraud detection, and conversational interfaces such as chatbots. Additionally, we are now moving to an era of hyper-personalization and customization. Brands will realize the need to become more authentic and transparent in their interaction with all stakeholders.”

As the BFSI is the economy’s backbone, the industry will need to use measures to boost operational resilience and efficiency in 2023.