How has the evolution of banking been since the launch of the bank in 1994 from IndusInd’s point-of-view?
IndusInd launched in 1994, but there was a change in management in early 2008. From a marketing, branding and advertising perspective that’s when the journey began. Apart from bringing in fresh perspective and focus on the various aspects of business and banking, there was also a renewed focus on building the brand. In the last six years, the brand has evolved from all perspectives leap and bounds. I think as a bank, we’ve come a really long way from the humble beginning of 1994.
The category (and us) now have to prepare for the future as the consumer is changing. The way the consumers are interacting with banks has to change and we have to evolve with the consumer.
What are these changes you are seeing in the consumer?
Banks would continue to focus on the traditional brick and mortar model since that is here to stay. But, what we are really seeing that customers are far more digitally savvy and they are doing banking (and a whole lot of other stuff) on the go. What we are preparing for is the whole digital evolution of banking and we would be able to reach, service and offer products that are not only available offline in branches and ATMs but a one-view seamless interaction across the digital platform as well. It’s about how we service them in the new digital age.
You’ve spoken about digital growing and traditional still being the focus. What’s the split between consumers only using traditional banking methods and internet banking?
We have 80,000 unique users every month when it comes to internet banking. We have more than a million customers using our traditional banking services. The internet banking number is pretty much in line with the category ratios. It’s not that half of the population of the country is on net banking. Internet banking in terms of usage is only improving with net access improving. This is a number that will only go up. If you look at the data that is published by the RBI, online transactions are going up.
Are people finally over safety concerns when it comes to online banking? How has IndusInd looked to make consumers feel more comfortable?
The consumer is evolving. There were safety concerns but banks have made enough and more efforts in terms of educating and reaching out to consumers, telling them how safe and secure it is to use net banking. While that education is happening and the consumer is seeing what is happening in the world, not only in the banking space, but the e-commerce space as well. If you see the kind of business e-commerce sites are doing, these are transactions too that are happening online. In line with that we have seen a whole lot of the fear reducing now.
IndusInd as a bank has done a lot of direct-to-customer communication through e-mailers, SMSes, and in-branch displays to educate the consumer about safety features. I think banks in the category have taken the onus to educate the customer about the safety features.
The bank started off in 1994. But it’s still perceived to be a challenger brand to players in the category which launched in the same year. What’s the reason for this?
I would not say we are a challenger brand currently. If you track our journey since 2008, we have stuck to a brand positioning, theme of ‘Responsive Innovations’. The category is highly commoditised. There’s not much difference you can offer in products and rates. The real difference we can make to a consumer’s life is how we can make banking easy and convenient for him. The various sub points whether it’s phone banking, net banking, an ATM or branch, it is how we can differentiate at these touch points that the customer uses day in and day out. Our whole challenger brand philosophy which we had in 2008 still stays around ‘Responsive Innovations’. We are looking to offer consumers confidence, ease and convenience because that’s a clear differentiator. We’re seeing now that IndusInd has come up with stuff that isn’t radically different, but very relevant for the consumers.
The bank recently rolled out a campaign for ‘Face-to-face’ banking. What was the idea behind rolling out such an initiative?
One of the key touch points for consumers to reach us is phone banking. Everybody knows and whatever research we’ve done shows that phone banking and the whole pain of going through IVRs, remembering debit card numbers, call drops etc, was a number one pain point. Secondly, we had a whole insight of Indians being more comfortable talking face-to-face. We took these two points together and launched this initiative. One big benefit is that the agent who is speaking with the customer has a screen in front that has the bank details as well as a picture to match with the video caller. Therefore the consumer doesn’t need to go through a IVR etc. So, the easy in convenience has helped a lot. The campaign launched on 24 October, and the initial response is we are receiving around 700 calls a day.
This service fits in with the bank’s philosophy and the fact that the service makes banking easy for consumers. The proof in the pudding for us is the surge in the usage we’re seeing. This (video call) is the first time it’s being launched in India and we believe it’s the first time in the world as well. The video call is recorded. One can also schedule video calls with the branch manager.
The insight for this really was that whenever a NRI visits the country, he makes a visit to his bank. We’re offering this service free to that consumer.
This service can benefit the elderly too. We’re seeing that age-group getting net savvy as well and it’s very convenient for them.
While we’re not targeting the above only, it’s one that is open globally for everyone 24*7.
How important is digital as a medium for marketing?
We are fairly heavy on digital. The latest campaign we rolled out was also about a digital innovation. TV for us remains the main medium to achieve the reach perspective. But, TV has its limitations too. Detailing of our campaigns are done using the digital medium. Digital is not limited now to the younger age groups. We are seeing 70-year-olds also using digital. In terms of the media mix, digital is the second most element for us. Digital would make up about 20 per cent of our total marketing budget.
The fact is that we are a mass brand so I have to reach the corners of India, so TV and regional is important too. As I see it, our digital spends will only increase in the future. The next initiative we are working on is taking on the next digital wave.
While we continue, to set up branches and ATMS, we are preparing for a digital future. In the coming months we will launch some more stuff that promotes digital banking. The customer of tomorrow is looking at balance of traditional and digital banking.
You also spoke about BTL advertising. What’s the ATL/BTL split?
BTL compromises around 10-15 per cent spends of our total spends.
Branches and ATMs split?
We have close to 700 branches and more than 1,200 ATMs.
Personal/NRI/Business/Corporate - what’s the split in consumers in each category? Which would be the biggest category forIndusInd?
In-terms of number of customers, consumer is by far the biggest category for us. NRI fits in under the consumer category as well. We have a million personal customers. Corporate and business would just be a handful at the moment.
In a category as large as yours, how would you define your target consumer?
I’m looking at a customer who’s predominantly male, between the age group of 30-45. As a bank what we are more focused on business owner (self employed). The split is 60-40, to the self employed category.
Farhan Akhtar has been roped in as brand ambassador. Sharman Joshi was used previously. What’s the idea behind roping in Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors?
It’s about reaching the market. To create an immediate connect with brands and services, Bollywood or cricket works in India. For us Bollywood has worked better. We don’t go the path of finalising the endorser before finalising the script. We put forward the proposition and brand idea and then look for the celebrity. For the last campaign, Farhan Akhtar was the best fit for us. A connect without a celebrity will take a lot longer and require more media money.
(This article appeared in the 28 November 2014 issue of Campaign India)