Post demonetisation, e-wallet companies were one of the first few players who sprang into immediate action. From lauding the Prime Minister’s initiative to educating the consumers through their front page ads, they not only occupied a considerable amount of print space, but also created curiosity among consumers who had earlier hesitated to use this mode of payment.
The following day, post the announcement of note ban, Paytm used Modi’s picture in their front page ads across national dailies, where they congratulated the PM for taking the ‘boldest step in the financial history of Independent India’. The ad was severely criticised by few members of the Opposition, including Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal who accused Paytm of being the biggest beneficiary during demonetisation.
Commenting on this, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network said, “It is always debatable, whether someone like a PM can be used in ads or not, and it has certain advertising regulations as well, but Paytm was first of the block and they managed to pull it off quickly. Hence, the brand created maximum impact on the consumers.”
Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President & Publisher, Chitralekha Group added, “Paytm had a huge advantage pre-demonetisation with their huge spends on large media properties including cricket. The momentum was with them while noteban was announced; they just carried on from there on. Their task was to convert the equity to acquisition which they did very well.”
Over the next few days, the other players, like FreeCharge and MobiKwik also issued full page ads trying to educate the consumers about all the places, where consumers can make payments using their brand and telling them not to panic unnecessarily.
Advertising extensively their new product features:
In order to increase their user base, these brands are currently, investing heavily by introducing new features to reduce the hassles of the consumers. Paytm had to withdraw their PoS feature immediately after running full page ads in the newspapers on the grounds of security. Then, in order to tap the non-internet user base or areas which face low connectivity, Paytm came up with a toll-free number and MobiKwik introduced MobiKwik Lite’ for consumers who don’t have access to proper internet connection. These new features are being widely publicised with front page ads in major publications across the country.
Use of regional print media to target consumers:
Other than the national dailies, a lot of regional papers were also used by the e-wallet players to advertise. For example, MobiKwik, besides advertising on Hindustan Times and The Times of India, was also present in Maharashtra Times and Gujarat Samachar. Also in all the Southern editions of The Hindu, the e-wallet brands comprising of Paytm, FreeCharge and MobiKwik carried out their ads extensively.
Giving an estimate on whether the ad rates have spiked or dropped post demonetisation, Swapnil Ravindran, National Sales Head (Digital & National Vertical Head), Print, The Hindu said, “The rates remained status quo for this category of advertisers, although it is challenging post demonetisation from an ad stand point.”
Commenting on the importance of advertising on the regional media, Bhasin from DAN said, “These players will slowly have to increase their focus in local languages as they plan to get deeper and deeper, because then only it will help to drive the smallest of the retailers.”
Echoing similar thought, Anita Nayyar, CEO-India & South Asia, Havas Media elaborated, “These e-wallet players have been very aggressive on the vernacular mediums and also on the digital front. The idea is to convert – people need to understand and it has to reach and penetrate at the lowest level. We are talking of e-wallets here, part of the new age Indian entrepreneurs – they have an opportunity and they are making the best of it.”
Who wins the race on print?
Despite all e-wallet players aggressively using the print medium, Nayyar believes that it is definitely Paytm’s strategy which is the most effective. According to her, the brand has captured the Indian customer mind space with the position and face of the enabler of cashless in Digital India. They made Modi’s Digital India and cashless their proposition and agenda – promoting its salient features to India and the common man. The brand has reached far and wide. Walk on any street and you will see Paytm stickers even at street tea and paan-beedi shops (not that it is all enabled). They have used the opportunity to their advantage and today most of India knows Paytm.
“Admirably, they are walking the last mile empowering their platform with education; people will be rewarded in cash for teaching others to use the platform. This person-to-person or peer-to-peer interaction will not only help alleviate fear and apprehension but open bounded mental barriers for entry. And when we talk of masses, we mean the proverbial bottom of the pyramid. The other e-wallets have also marketed comprehensively, explaining in detail, in languages at POS in cities, towns and rural. Banks too have sprung services as also the Government of India but Paytm must be credited for drafting the usability map. And to complete the circle they now have the Paytm Bank coming up,” she cited.
Will the players continue to spend on print in 2017?
Reportedly, Paytm has allotted an advertising budget of Rs 50 to 60 crore in the next few months. Also in the month of November, the brand’s advertising budget shot up by around 300 per cent. In June, the company had already shared their plans of spending Rs 600 crore on branding and marketing for 2016-17. MobiKwik on the other hand, has earmarked Rs 30 crore to be spent in mass media campaigns by January next year. While there has been a dip in ad spends in categories like FMCG, retail and others on print, the e-wallet as a category has not only increased their advertising budget, but they have been spending a huge chunk of it on print.
Commenting on whether the trend will be seen in 2017 as well, Bhattacharya cited, “The headroom for e-wallets market is huge, even the market leader Paytm reaches only 16 crore people. So the investment in media to acquire new users will continue so will the education to make users active and increase the share of spends.”
Bhasin further elaborated, “The category is here to stay and will only grow from here. The current spurt has been there because of demonetisation and we will only see more and more new players entering this space.”