Anupama Sajeet
Mar 12, 2024

The CMO's MO: Policybazaar's Sai Narayan on why gender parity in the financial industry matters

The head of marketing also shares his aspirations to tap into opportunities in 'Bharat beyond the metros', reposition the sentiment of gratification when purchasing insurance, and why perception is key to being a modern CMO

The CMO's MO: Policybazaar's Sai Narayan on why gender parity in the financial industry matters
The CMO’s MO (modus operandi), spotlights some of India’s top CMOs as they share their marketing mantra, trends for the future, and what keeps them up at night. Here we chat up with the who’s who of the country’s leading marketers, keep the tone conversational, crisp and throw in questions that allow leaders to shine a light on their personalities, plans, and passions projects for the year ahead. 
 
In this week's edition of CMO's MO, we have Policybazaar.com's chief marketing officer, Sai Narayan, on the hot seat. Narayan, who has been with the fintech for close to a decade having joined it in July 2014, spearheads brand, digital marketing, PR and social media efforts for Policybazaar.
 
With over 16 years of experience leading teams in varied marketing verticals in the span of his career, he has previously held prominent marketing and brand management positions at insurance companies such as Max Life Insurance and Aviva Life Insurance. During the early part of his career, Narayan has also had stints with advertising agencies like JWT and Publicis India. 

Scroll on to read Narayan's thoughts as he gets candid with Campaign.
 
1. What are the three biggest marketing challenges for your brand right now?
 
Our brand is rooted in a very strong belief that insurance cannot be merely sold per se—you need to make the end-user want to buy the right product for the right reasons. This is why the marketing team is focused on customer education, customer confidence, and customer analysis.

Our top three challenges are:
 
1. Generating demand through awareness: Insurance has been seen as a tax-saving tool for way too long. We help our consumers understand the criticality of protection products—term insurance and health insurance – for a sound financial future. 
 
2. Trust building: Our goal is to make issuance and claims smoother. We want customers to know that the moment at which they will need insurance, we will be there for digital service as well as on-ground support—and it will all happen with empathy and urgency. This is why we have campaigns like 30-minute 'Claims Promise', 'Insurance Ka Superhero', and initiatives like PB’s 'Claim Samadhan Diwas'.
 
3. Evolving with the audience: The newer audience is always on the go; they have precious and little time to spend on anything twice. The industry now has plans tailored to unique, individual needs. Even in our messaging, we can't follow a one-size-fits-all approach. For the younger generation, we have adapted to bite-sized formats so that the content remains crisp and relevant. 
 
2. What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?
 
Insurance is still a highly underpenetrated market in India. We have an opportunity to refine the products and market the services so well that we are able to realiae the #HarFamilyHogiInsured dream. We have a huge opportunity in:
 
1. Bharat beyond the metros: Financial inclusion in the truest sense can only be achieved when we go to the hinterlands. The tier two and tier three markets in India have the highest population but the lowest penetration. As an insurtech, we study this audience better and work extensively with region-relevant celebrities to speak to them on an emotional level.
 
2. Gender parity in financial responsibility: We feel very strongly about helping establish women as equals in financial decision-making. Whether you are a homemaker or a salaried woman, your financial contribution matters immensely. Our recent campaigns like the “Sirf ek salary se ghar nahin chalta…” try to mirror Indian women’s lives and bring out this aspect. 
 
3. Telling the untold gratification story: When a customer buys insurance, there’s no immediate thrill unlike when they buy clothes or gadgets. This makes insurance a somewhat less satisfying purchase. The only gratification one gets comes at the time of claim settlement. We see this as an opportunity to tell stories of this unique kind of gratification that comes from being able to support your family in tough times—it might not be instant but it is unparalleled. 
 
3. Where are you investing your marketing budgets this year? In what areas are you increasing or cutting spend?
 
There’s no reallocation of budgets planned at the moment. But in general, we are a very performance-oriented brand. We keep optimising our spends and keep reshuffling between say, regional markets and Hindi-speaking areas, to make sure that the singular goal of reaching the right audience never gets compromised. 
 
4. Marketing maestros or growth gurus: Are chief marketing officers the new chief growth officers?
 
Don’t you think a marketing maestro is a growth guru? I have always seen marketing as an extended business with growth as a role deeply entrenched into it. So, I can’t really see these as separate entities. All marketing efforts are at the end of the day targeted at growth. 
 
 
A fighter on and off the field: 'CMO's Cricket Crown Champion of March Madness'
 
5. What do you feel separates your brand culture from others?
 
I will not say that we are the only “brand with a purpose” out there, but I will say we are one of the few who do not believe in any mincing our words. Our purpose, “Har Family Hogi Insured” (every family will be insured) is as lofty as it is critical. When we are talking about how death, disease or disability can impact your family’s financial standing for the long haul—you have to get real, call a spade a spade. The hard-hitting humour in our campaigns like 'Yamraj' or 'Ghor Paap' or even 'Life ka U-turn'—it’s supposed to make you pause and then force you to take a hard look at the 'what if' situation. 
 
6. Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must be ….”.
 
Perceptive, I guess? You have to be really good at navigating customer emotions and figuring out their painpoints to become a brand that they can relate to and a brand they want to be associated with. 
 
7. What’s your favourite brand campaign that you participated in or wish you had?
 
Tata’s 'Jaago Re' campaign is one that I would have loved to be a part of. Apart from that one, I feel very lucky to have been involved with all the Term Insurance and Health Insurance campaigns that we have executed at Policybazaar.com.
 
8. Name another brand (can’t be yours) with an amazing customer experience that you really admire. Why is it great?
 
I recently used the Tata 1mg app and I was very impressed with how intuitive it is. I found it very customer-friendly. All you have to do is upload the prescription and the app takes care of everything else for you. 
 
 9. What keeps you up at night as a CMO?
 
I sleep well, so that I wake up fresh and get to work :).
 
Source:
Campaign India

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