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Saujanya Shrivastava

Chief Marketing Officer | 09 Apr 2012

Our marketing strategy is based on ‘Strategy of Proof’, a global Axa framework. Proof is nothing but tangible evidence of answering customers’ queries about expectations in a manner that nobody else has.

Saujanya Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti AXA Life Insurance has more than 14 years of experience in sales and marketing across sectors such as FMCG, Financial Services, e-commerce and retail.

Prior to joining Bharti AXA Life, he was with Future Group as Senior VP, Sales and Marketing for its e-commerce business. He led a young and vibrant team and played a pivotal role in developing the e-commerce business that included internet, telesales, catalogue sales, etc. Before joining Future Group, Shrivastava was the VP, Marketing at PepsiCo India.

Having just launched eProtect, Bharti Axa Life Insurance has joined the rank of insurance players who target young adults online. For Shrivastava, the challenge is differentiation in the market using the tried and tested global Axa framework, ‘Strategy of Proof ’.

Here are excerpts from Rahul Dubey’s conversation with him:

Q. What is your plan for the latest online insurance offering, eProtect? How is the TG of this plan different from that of the offline ULIP (Unit Linked Insurance Plan)?

In five years, internet penetration has doubled in India. Currently it is at about seven to eight per cent. There are close to 100 million internet users and estimates from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and other agencies say that there will be close to 240 million internet users by 2014-15. We have recognised that our core target segment is the 25-40 year age group in the SEC A & B category. There are close to 25 million internet users in this TG.

When we studied the market, customer segments and behaviour, we realised it was an area where we had to be present. We started work about six months ago and launched our online term plan in February. Of the 20-25 players in the market, 10 to 11 are in the online space, and we are the latest entrant in the market. On the pricing front, we are among the top two competitive products in the market. We are trying to make it more relevant to consumers and live up to their expectations. We are the only company to offer an online term policy to any consumer living in any town in India. This is perhaps the best example of financial inclusion through this product. We have tie-ups at medical centres and doctors’ chambers in more than 950 towns.

Q. How is Bharti AXA Life Insurance’s marketing strategy different from that of other brands?

Given that we are a third wave entrant, we naturally had to do a lot of catching up with companies such as ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, HDFC, etc., that were already present in the market. These are mostly entities that were banks first and later turned insurance companies. They draw their lineage and credibility from their banks. Our challenge was differentiation in the market. Our marketing strategy was based on the ‘Strategy of Proof’, a global Axa framework that is extremely compelling. Proof is nothing but tangible evidence of answering customers’ queries about expectations in a manner that nobody else has. You will find many advertisements, rosy retirement age plans and money-back guarantees, etc. But this is no longer a land of promises. It is a world of proofs.

Customers want evidence from a trustworthy company. Our latest ad on TV that depicts an old lady going to an insurance office to claim the insurance amount, contains an element of proof. That is the first ad we did for the ‘Strategy of Proof’ campaign.

Our family care benefit plan communication is that in case of the unfortunate death of the policy holder, we will release Rs 1 lakh within 48 hours of claim intimation. In that moment of extreme distress for a family, we don’t want people to run from pillar to post. We want to release the money, no questions asked. Just get us the death certificate and other documents, as part of normal procedure, and within 48 hours we give you Rs 1 lakh. The balance is given after necessary investigation. That is actually a solution…it clearly tackles customers’ expectations that when they need us the most, we are there for them. We provide the kind of support that no one in the current online market offers. Even in the offline space, fund release in 48 hours is not something that anyone has done.

Q. How do you plan to communicate your brand statement of ‘proof’ across all media platforms? What is your media mix?

Our TVC is for the ULIP part, not the online offering. We need to have a judicious mix of media platforms because it is a sharply targeted priority segment and we need to be where our customer is. Therefore, we had the ULIP TVCs.

We also appear on news tickers. Our target group is a segment that knows its financial needs and watches a lot of business news. E-protect is featured on all leading news channels. We have also targeted top print publications.

The digital platform is very crucial. We are working hard on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and high impact banner ads on the Internet. Additionally, we have e-mail campaigns for behavioural targeting. We target internet users who particularly use the medium for personal financial needs such as insurance. Contextual advertisements ensure that relevant messages appear on relevant websites when people search for such products.

Q. We have seen a number of outdoor advertisements for newly launched Bharti AXA products. How important is the outdoor medium for you?

In the last six or seven months, we have seen a series of product launches. We looked at the outdoor media in a big way. We looked at Tier II and Tier III towns as well, to build awareness around each of these products. We always focus on judicious use of media for the brand.

Q. After fresh regulatory policies were issued for ULIP by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority last year, what kind of challenges did you face in marketing your products?

It was a challenging phase for all insurance companies. The new regulations increased benefits for customers. All our efforts last year were directed at building customer awareness around market linked products. We used many ways of communicating to consumers. We did outdoor campaigns, as well as front-page ads in the Times of India and many leading regional dailies. There were radio campaigns as well as a host of media initiatives undertaken primarily to build awareness of the fact that post-regulation, it was even more beneficial from the customer’s standpoint to buy ULIP products.

Q. What are you immediate marketing plans? Is any change in media strategy on the cards?

Our ‘Strategy of Proof’ approach will continue and so will ULIP. You will see some powerful proofs coming up, targeted at the young adult. You will see a national campaign of our products targeted at this TG. It is a segment that has a lot of potential and needs to get insured. As far as the brand positioning is concerned, a lot of research work goes on relentlessly so that we can start building a number of proof points focused towards redefining the category.

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