Home // CMO Interview



Share It

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



Bharti AXA Life is a life insurance player that started out in 2006. It brings together the strong financial expertise of the Parisheadquartered AXA Group and Bharti Enterprises - one of India’s leading business groups with interests in telecom, the agri business, financial services and retail. Bharti has a 74% stake and AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (APH) a 26% stake in the joint venture company.


Saujanya Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti AXA Life Insurance has more than 14 years of experience in Sales & 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 & Marketing for their e-commerce business. He led a young and vibrant team at www.futurebazaar.com that played a pivotal role in developing the e-commerce business including internet, telesales, catalogue sales and institutional vertical. Before joining the Future Group, Shrivastava was VP, Marketing at PepsiCo India.

Q] What is your plan for the latest online insurance offering? How is the TG of this plan different from that of the offline ULIP plan?

In five years, internet penetration has doubled in India. Currently it is about 7- 8%. There are close to 100 million internet users and most estimates and numbers from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and other agencies estimate that there will be close to 240 million internet users by 2014-15. Though there is a large number of users on this platform, not everyone can use this medium. We have recognized 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 realized 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 the cheapest product, if you consider the age group we are targeting. But pricing is not our only area of strength; we are also 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. Even for people who actually want to opt for a higher-priced policy, reach is assured through this strategy.

Q] Bharti AXA Life Insurance is a relatively new entrant in the insurance space. How is your marketing strategy different from that of established brands?

Given that we are a third wave entrant, we naturally had to do a lot of catching-up with companies like 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, heritage and credibility from their banks. Our challenge was differentiation in the market. Our marketing 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 campaign 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 do innovations and push-backs… We have taken push-backs during cricket matches... We also appear on news tickers because we are an insurance brand; so our domain is about being informed, aware and educated. 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 including the Times of India, Economic Times, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, etc. To add to the momentum, we have placed front-page ads in lead publications. The digital platform is also very crucial. We are working hard on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aspect, and high impact banner ads on the Internet. We were also on Yahoo’s finance page during the budget sessions and appear on moneycontrol.com, Rediff and other leading portals. 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 the relevant websites when people search for such products.

Q] The brand strategy of most insurance products is strongly focused on the idea of trust. Is the positioning of Bharti AXA radically different from other insurance brands?

The cornerstone of our strategy is trust, though the programme is more focused at proof. If a company believes in releasing funds within 48 hours of claim intimation, then trust and interest of customers is at its heart. It is clearly about building trust. The brand positioning of Bharti AXA is financial protection that continuously proves that it is worth trusting.

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] There are about 24-25 players in the sector. Where do you see competition and marketing strategy going in the sector?

Different companies adopt different methodologies to reach out to their TG. There are insurance companies that have tie-ups with banks. When you have a captive bank base as your customers, then all your communication efforts need to be driven towards actually ensuring salience within the bank branches; so they undertake more BTL activities. When one does not have a bank partner and is in an open market, the primary way to source business is through agencies or distribution. In that case, the company needs mass media to do it. It depends on the life cycle of the company, evolution of the brand, business strategy and sales channels. All these factors decide the best media vehicle for a 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 had many ways of communicating to consumers. We did outdoor campaigns, as well as front-page solus 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] How successful were your post-regulatory campaigns, from the marketing standpoint?

The campaigns were successful; therefore we see traction back on ULIP products. The industry went through a phase of consolidation in the last year-and-a-half post the regulatory change. Currently, given the restructuring exercise and the new set of products compliant with the new regulation on ULIPs, we are well poised for growth.

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, i.e., the TG we are looking at. You will see a national campaign on a product targeted at this TG. It is a segment that has a lot of potential and it 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.

Feedback: rahul.dubey@exchange4media.com

Share It

Tags : CMO Interview