Anil Ramachandran, Head – Marketing & Communication, and Head - Retail Unsecured Assets, IndusInd Bank talks about how the brand is strengthening its own image along with attempting to give differently-abled sportsmen their due in this country
By Neeta Nair
Q] Earlier this month, India beat Pakistan to Win T20 World Cup For the Blind. How has IndusInd Bank benefitted from this association with the Blind Cricket Team?
It is a treat to watch the hugely-talented Indian blind cricket team on the pitch and we are proud to be associated with #TheOtherMenInBlue who have displayed tremendous grit and determination to become the World Champions. Our focus has always been to garner support, and generate a high level of passion and visibility for them. These real heroes win against all odds, excel and bring glory to their country but their achievements are not adequately covered or recognized by the people. We have therefore, done what we can, in our own way, to put the spotlight on them. Under our World Champions Programme – Cricket for the Blind, we are supporting the initiatives of The Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) which would include organizing year-long cricketing workshops and events. The support will go towards providing support and infrastructure as required by CABI towards training workshops and camps along with taking care of logistics and travel etc. We would be delighted if these efforts resulted in more support for them from different organizations and people.
Q] Generally the biggest draw for a sponsor for the money he spends backing a sport comes from TV viewership of the match. Considering that no TV channels had agreed to telecast the Blind World Cup, what was your strategy?
Our strategy was clear -- to tap the digital media. Today’s generation feels the pulse of Digital. As our objective was to create excitement around the cricket team, we believed that Online and Social Media would be the best platforms for communication and thus we ran campaigns successfully on digital media.
Q] What were your different initiatives to support the Blind cricket team and highlight IndusInd’s role in it on the ground?
After interacting with the cricketers we felt that these extremely gifted sportsmen did not get the same level of viewership despite their strong performances on the field. Apart from doing our bit for their visibility and recognition, we organized a friendly match between IndusInd Bank Indian Blind Cricket team with our company’s Delhi Cricket Team. We also invited our employees and some customers to come to the stadium. Their engagement, cheering and support created a very charged environment in the stadium, as any great sporting event should have. Though the Delhi team lost the match, they were awestruck by the Indian Blind Team’s spirit and indomitable confidence. Additionally we kept employee engagement running with a lot of internal messaging through mailers on internal platforms.
Q] You launched a film #TheOtherMenInBlue to increase awareness about Blind Cricket. What kind of response did you get on Social Media?
One of the major highlights of the campaign was the anthem ‘Shor Machayega Sara Mohalla’ which was launched by CABI, in association with IndusInd Bank. This was an inspiring sixty second anthem in support of the "#TheOtherMenInBlue" conceptualized by Tandav Films. The feedback and response has been very positive. It is great to see that the people are reacting at an emotional level and connecting with the cricketers. As a part of the campaign, IndusInd Bank developed a dedicated microsite to encourage people to root for ‘The Other Men in Blue’. To make it more engaging, we developed a unique game, with 3D sound technology, that provided users with a first-hand experience of how the visually-challenged cricketers play the game. Users can click on the Play, Cheer and Share the Score options, and show solidarity with the team through Facebook.
Q] Demonetisation has in many ways benefitted banks, how has the move impacted IndusInd Bank?
We believe that any move towards digital payments is a good step and we are fully leveraging our strengths to provide elegant and simple digital banking solutions to our customers. We are seeing heightened engagement from our customers as they are now encouraged to also adopt and adapt to the changing world where financial transactions can be done simply by a touch on the screen of a mobile phone. We have seen a strong growth in number of transactions being done on credit and debit cards. Our fingerprint mobile banking, for example provides an unmatched and simple solution for customers to carry on their day to day money transfers and banking requirements with the touch on a screen.
Q] Over a third of loans for IndusInd comes from commercial vehicle financing which is experiencing a slowdown...yet you managed to grow your loan book by 25 per cent y-o-y in the December quarter. What was the strategy?
It is a strategy of having a strong and diversified portfolio with sustained and calibrated growth in our Assets. We have a very diversified asset book which enables us to leverage opportunities as also manage any changes in the macro-economic environment, more effectively. With our pan India presence and strongly diversified assets, we have been able to sustain and continue with our growth agenda.
Q] You also handle the Credit Card vertical at IndusInd Bank, what kind of penetration do credit cards have in India today and what percent of it is by IndusInd Bank?
Despite a population of over 1.2 billion there are only around 25+ million credit cards in the Indian market place. We are not focused on market share and our biggest mantra has been on customer engagement and profitability. It is meaningless to put a card in a customer’s wallet if she is not going to use it. Therefore our strategy has been to create high value accretive products for the customer, invest in a truly rewarding Rewards programs, and most critically, to ensure that customers are active and prefer using our cards when it comes to a purchasing decision. Our biggest competition is cash and we would like to convert all such cash transactions to plastic money. This is in line with the digital-based changes taking place in the country.
Q] How have other programmes like 'My Account My Number' and 'check -on-cheque' worked out for the bank in terms of reach?
All these programmes have reinforced our positioning of being an innovative and customer-centric bank. Our objective has been to find robust, elegant and innovative solutions that make customers’ lives easier. The focus on innovation has enabled us to live up to our motto of “Aapne Chaha, Humne Kiya”. The innovations have all been focused on identifying a customer need and addressing that need through a sophisticated technological solution. All these campaigns and programs have enabled us to enhance reach and win customer loyalty.
Q] How has Farhan Akhtar added value to IndusInd bank as a brand ambassador?
We have used celebrities as a part of our mainstream campaigns for many years now and all these associations have been of great value to us. It has been a great association with Farhan Akhtar and he is featured on some of our most recalled product campaigns.
Q] Airtel and small finance banks like Equitas are offering interest rates as high as 7.5% on saving accounts. Do you think they will soon trigger an interest war?
India has a large unbanked population and there is adequate space for all banks to play out their strategies. Ultimately customer is king and will weigh all the conveniences and propositions before making a decision. Having choices and options empower the customer and make organizations work harder to serve them better.