Submitted by admin on Mon, 08/14/2017 - 12:10

In the run-up to the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai half marathon, Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer and Head - Strategy & Products at IDBI Federal Life Insurance, tells us how the marathon has helped brand recall and about efforts aimed at differentiating the brand in the cluttered life insurance segment


By Samarpita Banerjee


Q] Standard Chartered recently ended its long association with the Mumbai Marathon, to take ‘a fresh look at the numerous sponsorship avenues’. Has your association with the half marathon helped you achieve the consumer engagement that you had hoped for?

Life insurance has been positioned as something associated with fear and there has always been a negative perception attached to it. However, you must have life insurance in your investment portfolio, not because of fear, but because it allows you to live without fear. Our purpose statement is to empower consumers, to help them live the life and lifestyle of their choice. However, it is not just about financial empowerment but also about their well-being and health. We want to communicate that people need to adopt a healthy lifestyle because that helps them do better in life. We went for sports as a theme because both Vighnesh Shahane, our CEO, and I have a sports background and we strongly believe that sports has helped us build the way we think, conduct ourselves and the way we lead the teams. It has helped us construct the way we look at situations. The industry has a lot of clutter, and most people talk the same language. Coming in as the 18th player, we needed to be different. Fitness is something that people have aggressively started thinking about and running is the easiest way to stay fit. Running therefore became our preferred choice, and hence the involvement with marathons. Our first marathon association was with Spice Coast in Cochin, followed by New Delhi, Mumbai, and now Kolkata. How do marathons help me reach my target audience? Last year, around 8,500 people finished the race. This year, around 15,000 people have registered for the Mumbai Half Marathon, and this is only for the 21 km and 10 km. For the 5 km, there could be spot registrations, so we really don’t know the final count. The number has doubled and everybody who participates will carry our brand, talk about us and start thinking about us. There is going to be an immense brand recall.


Q] Many of the people participating in the marathon might not be your consumers already. How do you engage with them once the marathon is over?

Every quarter, all the people who registered to run with our marathons get our newsletter which not just talks about life insurance but also about running, health, nutrition and the food they need to consume to stay healthy. It also talks about the other investment avenues available including life insurance. There is also communication that goes out through NEB Sports (organizers) telling the runners about the various product options that we have. In case they are interested, there is a call to action.


Q] How did you go about promoting the marathon?

While we did a bit of Outdoor, we have largely been promoting it through social media. Sachin Tendulkar, the face of the marathon, has tweeted a few videos on Facebook calling for people to reach out to him. We had an initiative called Evening with Sachin where people could come and spend time with Sachin who spoke about a lot of stories and trivia from his cricket days. When the video went out saying that you could meet Sachin, we saw a spurt in the registrations. We also had a medium where we said that if your friend is not very active physically, give us his details and we will have Sachin call the friend up. And about 3-4 people got a call from Sachin. We also released a few videos with ordinary people whose lives transformed after they started running.


Q] Has GST affected the life insurance sector?

Not much, because earlier the tax was 15%, now it is 18% which is a marginal increase. For example, earlier if your premium was Rs 10,000, you had to pay Rs 11,500 which has now gone up to Rs 11,800.


Q] IDBI Federal claims it is ‘not the typical life insurance company’. What is it that differentiates you?

We have a dress down culture at our office, and flexi hours - you can come to work anytime between 8 am and 10:30 am, and work for nine hours from then on. There is the option of work from home once a fortnight. We are a life insurance company that does not function like a life insurance company. We like to call ourselves an un-insurance company. These steps have helped us increase productivity in the last two years. Our retention and business numbers have gone up and the general morale is positive. Three years back, our balance sheet was at around Rs 800 crore. Last year, we closed at about Rs 1565 crore, and employee morale has the maximum contribution to this.


Q] Humour has been a constant in most of your campaigns…

We believe that humour is important because people remember. It helps create a brand recall and from a marketing perspective, you need to be different from what everybody else is doing, otherwise you become a me-too brand.


Q] IDBI Federal’s ‘Angry Baby’ campaign grabbed quite a few eyeballs. Have you seen an increase in the number of people investing in child insurance post the campaign?

Child insurance currently contributes close to 35% of our total portfolio and it has become our flagship product. The way we spoke about child insurance caught the imagination of people because we took a different approach. It was not just about putting up hoardings, we had radio programmes and ground activities. We also had ‘Angry Baby’ campaigns where people could come and the child could pose, and we selected a few of the babies and put them up on the hoardings with credit to the parents. It caught the imagination of the public and helped us immensely.


Q] Did being a late entrant in the sector put you at a disadvantage?

In fact, that helped us become a smarter operator, because we knew what not to do. We sat back and studied the mistakes as well as what other players did right and then focused on implementing the good practices. I look at it as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.


Q] What is your primary media mix?

Earlier we used to do a lot of Outdoor and ATL. But now, we have consciously opted to go the Social Media way. If you look at 10,000 runners, almost everybody gets photographed at the event. If each one of them has even 50 friends, we get an immense reach. TV has taken a backseat to a certain extent. We use Print while promoting the marathon as it helps to reach out to a certain section of customers. We cannot completely say no to Print, but primarily use it during our events, but going forward, Social Media is going to be our primary focus.


Q] What part of your marketing spends go towards advertising?

About 10-15%.


Q] You have tied up with Pullela Gopichand recently for ‘Quest for Excellence’ promoting Badminton players. What was the thought behind it?

The primary focus of Quest for Excellence will be on building champions. Right now, Gopi has hand-picked 17 players who are a part of this programme, with focus on the 2020 Olympics. They are being groomed to win laurels for the country at the highest level.


Q] Are there plans of associating with any other sport in the near future?

Right now, we want to restrict ourselves to running and badminton and consolidate the properties that we already have.

@ FEEDBACK samarpita.banerjee@exchange4media.com

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