Submitted by admin on Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:24

With 80% of their total transactions across the country taking place online, Ravi Santhanam the newly appointed Chief Marketing Officer of HDFC Bank, elaborates on why it makes perfect sense to launch #StartDoing, a digital-only campaign for the brand


By Neeta Nair

Q] You have recently moved from Telecom (Vodafone) to Banking. How different are the challenges you face at HDFC?

The first challenge is the number of products we have at HDFC. Telecom is voice, data and a little bit of value-added services, here and there. And the value-added services necessarily are not the ones which you actually force communication for or attempt to sell. But, when it comes to banking, the number of products and the lifecycle in which you can engage with the customer is fairly large. So you might be starting with a simple savings account, then when you start working we give you a credit card, post that a two-wheeler loan, a four wheeler loan and so on.

Q] What was the first thing on your agenda when you took over as the CMO of HDFC?

The first thing for me was to understand the customer from a banking perspective. Different customers have different needs and expectations from the bank. For example, the millennials expect everything to be done on their phone and not at the branch. Most people don’t even go to the branches anymore. So, we need to be sure that our digital investments are in line with the aspirations of the customers. In fact, some of the old customers like us who hadn’t seen a mobile till we started our careers have also moved towards internet or mobile banking. So, the engagement, awareness and fulfillment have to start and end on Digital. Also, as soon as one product lifecycle is over, the next one starts, so the engagement is continuous.

Q] Tell us a little about the new campaign #StartDoing which focuses on credit cards and loan options?

Whenever I asked customers in the branches in my initial touring round as to how they heard of HDFC Bank, they always said it was through an existing customer’s reference. What I gathered from that is that if you take care of the needs of your existing customers, then you are bound to get some more customers in your fold through word of mouth. Earlier, there was a time when I would wait for a Times of India review to know if a movie is worth watching, today all I need to do is go to my Facebook timeline and see if any of my friends whose taste matches with mine has referred, say, Jagga Jasoos. That’s the way the whole world is moving, even the financial products and systems.  So, this time we thought why not use the new way of engaging with our audience, considering that most people are digitally savvy today.


Q] There is emphasis on being the number 1 Bank in the ad unlike the previous HDFC commercials, why?

There are two things I’d like to mention here. We have a leadership position in most of the product categories we operate in. But when we went and met customers, we realized that while the entire market knows about it, the person on the street is not necessarily aware. Secondly, most consumers we asked said that whenever they need to take a call on financial decisions, they talk to someone who is slightly better off than them. If you are the leader, people are going to come to you. We tried to convey through our ad that the person you think is better than you is already banking with us. Thus, the idea behind putting out – India’s number 1 bank in our latest ad was not just about showing off. 


Q] What is the target audience for this campaign?

‘Catch them young’ is a rule we comply with pretty well. Owing to our corporate salary focus, we associate with our customers at a nascent stage of their life and actually grow with them over a period of time. But then why should I say no to a person who is not a millennial? So the target audience is who we bank with and even those who don’t bank with us currently.

Q] What are the brand’s BTL activities for engaging with the consumers?

More than 800-1000 hoardings have been put up at our branch’s locations. So, visibility is pretty high on the BTL side also. We have a lot of touch points with our customers, via our 4700 branches, 12,000 plus ATMs. The ATMs have an ability to showcase the banners in a loop. Anybody who walks into an ATM, even if he is not an HDFC customer, can see our campaign. So that’s one internal medium that we are leveraging in addition to video which is the primary way of communication.

Q] Can you give us a rough estimate of your marketing spends?

I can’t reveal the exact figure but it is in double digit crores for this campaign. And the campaign is expected to reach 50 million people.

Q] What percentage of your overall transactions are happening digitally now?

The last I remember it was more than 80%. (The figures stood at 63% in FY 2014-15).

Q] Tell us about your payment app PayZapp and how many HDFC customers are using it?

PayZapp is our entry point into giving a customer a wholesome payment experience. Out of 40 million HDFC customers, 11 million are currently using PayZapp. Apart from that, we also have Smart Buy, a platform that facilitates the payment experience. For Smart Buy, we have tied up with key online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart. Additionally, we have travel and flight bookings options too. We give 10 times the reward points if you go and buy anything on Amazon or Flipkart through our Smart Buy platforms. The same is available on mobile as a device through PayZapp. And PayZapp also functions as a wallet.

Q] But only this year your MD- Aditya Puri said e-wallets have no future.

Well, you will have to ask him what he meant by that. As far as PayZapp is concerned, it can be linked to your credit or debit card. It is much more secure than a regular wallet, purely because it’s from our own bank and we have done a lot of work on the technology front to make it secure. Also, one doesn’t have to re-load the wallet with money to make a payment, because of having linked it to your debit or credit card. We are bringing all the modes of payment into PayZapp, be it UPI or Aadhar, plus it is a one-click payment experience. It is customer experience that will make people come to PayZapp. It will do whatever a typical wallet will do and more. We are also working with a wide network of offline merchants for acceptance on the other side.

Q] In 2015, HDFC Bank had made a film called Dhanchayat to address lack of knowledge on organized finance. What kind of impact has that had?

‘Dhanchayat’ has been our CSR initiative for the past couple of years now. One of our CSR pillars is financial inclusion, education and financial literacy to people who are unbanked as of now. We have covered more than 5000 to 6000 villages every year, by spending a day with the villagers and briefing them about banking and showing them the advantages of using regular banking channels. We have touched more than 12,000 villages in the past two years and this is our third year now.


@ FEEDBACK neeta.nair@exchange4media.com

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