Tata AIA Life, formerly Tata AIG, would be at No. 12 among the 20-odd private insurance players in terms of market share, cedes Amitabh Tapadar, vice president - chief marketing officer, Tata AIA Life Insurance Company. But the intent is to move up, with strategic focus on the Rs 10 to Rs 50 lakh income bracket.
The brand, which established its ‘Foundations’ (handled by Bates CHI & Partners), is keen to build on it. “This year, we are trying to evolve the campaign further. The idea is to take ‘foundation’ further, by evoking an even stronger call to action,” says Tapadar, a Tata group veteran with stints at Tata Chemicals, Voltas and Tata Housing.
He explains in context: “Tata AIA is right now in a period of giant growth. We have had a year of consolidation and establishing AIA. If you look at the past six or seven months’ data, we’re showing steep growth on past year performance. In a year and a half to two years, I see Tata AIA coming up to be one of the top five in terms of sales market share.”
Role of marketing
The marketing function that he helms is really about three ‘harbingers of tomorrow’: brand equity, PR and online sales (and marketing). The stated approach to achieving a top five slot by sales is by hitting the top five brand benchmarks on these three pillars first.
And a few initiatives are underway to drive the brand and its visibility on key occasions. The brand launched a tactical attack in Kolkata during Durga Puja, in a bid to dispel the notion that in the days preceding and after the festival, no one does business. The brand used Maha Saptami to urge people to buy some protection for their family on the ‘life occasion’. Ads invoking Maa Durga’s blessings asked readers to consider the Tata AIA Maha Life Gold policy (which accounts for 40 pc of its sales). The ads also reminded the market that as per regulator guidelines, old insurance products would expire by January 2014.
The brand has also been in the news for an aggressive push in recruiting women advisors, under the umbrella of ‘Fenomena’. While a quarter of its advisors are women, they receive 60 to 70 per cent of performance awards, notes the CMO.
“The thirteenth month premium payment percentage is proof in terms of whether that is the product they wanted or whether they have been mis-sold. We found that the thirteenth month persistency is also very high for women advisors. So we have a goal of taking the percentage of women advisors from 25 per cent to 55 per cent, pan-India,” reveals Tapadar.
In July, at a marketing and corporate communication meet of the Tata group presided over by new chief Cyrus Mistry, Tata AIA targeted group companies to drive recruitment of women advisors. A road show across Tata group companies followed, starting at The Titan Company in September.
Digital road, TG
The brand is keenly looking at online sales, much like most of the category. Across players, web sales accounts for 3 per cent of sales (same with Tata AIA), with a couple of web aggregators playing a dominant role. Tapadar estimates that Policybazaar would have around 40 per cent share of online sales, and adds, “And we are one of the strong players with Policybazaar.”
“We find that the do-it-yourself customer favours online media a lot and they do a lot of transactions online. For example, the highest percentage of sales of term product is in the income bracket of Rs 10 to 50 lakh per annum, and a lot of it is online. They look at all products in the category on a web aggregator, a neutral comparison platform in terms of price and features. Then they close the sale online. It’s the way that we see the target customer of the income bracket of Rs 10 to 50 lakh moving, and that’s my target customer, because at that income bracket maturity steps in,” explains Tapadar.
With customers in lower income brackets looking at returns and tax savings, it is the ‘mature’ set which Tata AIA is focused on to buy term products.
“Another angle is that these people already have some existing policies and insurance is a push product. So, it’s so much easier to sell a second policy to a person who’s already convinced about insurance. These people are educated, have the maturity and already have an existing policy but are under-insured. So this TG is lucrative for me to attack. They are also ‘do it yourself’ type of customers. Our brief to creative and media agencies is to attack that TG and create communication for it. My technology stream is also pushing towards that story,” he adds.
He however notes that even web aggregators are of the view that the industry is two to three years away before its gets a ‘real discontinuous rise in online policies’. An online policy purchase is very different from a product purchase, they reason. For starters, it takes about two weeks to be issued.
Recalling a conversation with a research firm, Tapadar adds that the TG for online policy buying is believed to be people already making significant purchases on the internet, worth a few thousands of rupees - not everyone on Facebook and those buying rail tickets online.
Brand on track?
“I’ve been talking to people like Nielsen and they’ve shared a snapshot; our brand equity as of today is more or less in sync with our market share. We are not a top five player in terms of brand equity in the insurance space, but that is something we’re desperately and aggressively seeking to change,” confides Tapadar.
A brand equity study will be conducted in Jan-March 2014, the quarter which accounts for 40 per cent of insurances sales. In the meantime, the team is getting the brand ready to rise on that track. An advertising campaign, as part of the overall effort, is on the anvil.