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Customers will be loyal to a brand they are a part of: Karthi Marshan

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Customers will be loyal to a brand they are a part of: Karthi Marshan

Karthi Marshan, Head of Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank revolved the customer of today on three parameters – Permanence, Loyalty and Choice. He stressed that loyalty needs to come from the brand side as customer when buying has already expressed his loyalty by spending money.

He showcased certain photographs of people with tattoos imbibed on their bodies and established that this is the way how marketers thought their respective brands would be treated. He expressed that actually brands love regular money from customer and that is what they define as loyalty.

From customer point of view he mentioned that the definition of loyalty has broadened widely. Although he insisted that every widening also came with certain restriction. The restriction according to him was that of the 'context'. He exemplified by saying that an unknown brand can attract audiences only if the context behind that brand is trustworthy.

Marshan then tried relating customer choices of brand with the everyday approaches and environment a customer is in. For example, if a person is made to believe that he might lose a brand, will he suddenly turn brand loyal? With rising number of divorce cases in India where people are expressing and opting as per their choice, can the same be applicable while choosing and divorcing brands as well?

He highlighted that affluence and choice does make a customer more promiscuous,be it in life or in making brand choices and that lessons in branding today will come from lessons in lifestyle of consumers. “Seeking emotional loyalties and permanence to apply to our brands, one has to see what is happening around us,” he said. Citing this, he said that a modern and progressive person is more likely to stray away from the brand than a dull, boring and traditional person.

He further said that cyber media offers a person far more access and exposure to brands and therefore is more likely to be on the line of brand infidelity.

He added that a customer today wants a brand to be all things to all people and different things at different times to her as well. Therefore, constant and customised engagement is the key.

He then talked about Kotak Bank’s journey. He mentioned that in the early years Kotak Bank was only projected as "think investments think Kotak", as investments was the preferred strength of the bank. Marshan mentioned that this approach was helpful but customers were not engaging with the bank at daily basis-level (money management) and only preferred the bank to manage their wealth. The bank then changed the approach of communication to money management as well.

Marshan then told the journey of the bank starting with how the bank marketed its 25th year by making the customers talk about what they felt and did when they were 25. He mentioned that through this the bank jumped on trust parameters by 5%.  The bank also jumped on the parameters of awareness.

He then mentioned that post 2011 the bank started to use disruptive approaches and challenged status quo by showcasing that it would give 6% interest on savings account unlike 4% from other banks. In 2012 the bank started to use the digital medium as well. He then came to 2013 mentioning that the bank began the journey of segmenting. In this he highlighted how the bank promoted the minor/ junior account opening which also got a lot of action from kids and their parents.

He then told that how the efforts yielded results. The bank has added Rs 6,000 crore and three million customers in almost last three years. The bank also launched digital bank account recently.

He summed up that it is not about only a brand, but about the customer who shapes the brand and brands will have to listen to them. He also said that customers today are very happy to be co-creators with the brand and they want to have a sense of empowerment that they can dictate what should happen in the future. He added that the loyalty in future will come only when customer is the part of the brand and has done something for the brand.

Karthi Marshan was speaking at the Pitch CMO Summit 2014, held in Mumbai on March 24, in a session titled ‘Brands are Just Sticker Tattoos’. The session was moderated by Rajiv Dhingra, CEO and Founder, Wat Consult.Pitch CMO Summit 2014 was powered by Colors.

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