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India’s under-insured market offers wide scope of exploration. While insurance companies have adopted a clear strategy of compartmentalizing consumers into age groups, Bajaj Allianz Marketing Head Rituraj Bhattacharya continues to use a mix of traditional and new age media to reach out to potential consumers across age barriers


Q] India is known to be under-insured due to lack of awareness. What are your plans to spread awareness about the need for insurance among people, especially the youth?

It is not just about awareness. It is more about what people’s needs are and how one can understand and address those needs. For instance, people in India are now aware about the concept of insurance. Many of them understand the difference between life insurance, health insurance, accident cover and pension plans, etc. A recent study also reveals that life insurance is one of the top three investment options that people consider. Secondly, in some parts of the country, people are aware of insurance, but are they ready to invest or can they afford to invest is also a concern. So, while on one hand awareness has to be considered, on the other hand understanding the consumers is crucial. We also have to understand the demand on the periphery of the market. The significant aspect is to learn the insights of the expectations of consumers. Usually, there is a gap in the understanding about consumers. Our plan is to carry a message through what happens in the day to day lives of people.


Q] What according to you is the approach of consumers to insurance? What is the general perception here that is different from the rest of the world?

I think the approach of Indian consumers is not very different from that of the rest of Asia, whereas this approach is very different in some other parts of the world. There are two important factors involved in the approach of consumers here - affordability and investment options they look for. For instance, many people continue to deposit money in banks in either savings accounts or buy plans offered by banks. There are also fixed deposits and some other plans sometimes offered by cooperative banks. So, it is important to understand the consumer one is looking for and his or her expectations.


Q] What are the newly launched services and products from Bajaj Allianz?

We have recently launched a new ULIP with a low minimum investment of Rs 5,000. Thanks to this, a new segment has opened up completely. The ULIP segment will now be available to a vast population which earlier could not go for such investment, as higher premiums were required in the plan. Many people will now have an opportunity. A huge portion of this new target population is also located in smaller towns, areas that are partially media dark. It takes me back to the point of understanding the demands of consumers and most importantly, communication in the right way to reach out to all segments.


Q] Your recent insurance campaigns seem to be focused around almost all age groups – aiming to target adults, youth and children too. What is your marketing strategy?

We recently started a campaign called “The one thing I have learnt”. We believe in the fact that we have to learn about the customers and also from them. Our theme is around ‘learns from its customers’ and ‘gives them solutions for a carefree life’. The campaign portrays real life individuals sharing their learning. The campaign is based on a simple philosophy of people’s life. We all learn as we live. In the course of our ten year celebrations, we had asked our customers and employees to share the one thing they have learnt in life. We then decided to have a new campaign around a similar theme. The campaign highlights small lessons that have helped us learn about the customers in a better way and constantly take their demands back to improve our understanding of them.


Q] How successful are life insurance plans that can be bought online? Are they targeted at a particular segment?

When we say youth, it does not mean that all of them use the Internet and it is also not true that those who are not young don’t use the Internet. Here we come back to the question of segmentation and compartmentalizing the market and consumers. Is it right to say that only youth are active Internet users? Internet users come from almost all age groups. Firstly, it is important to understand how many people are online, and how many of them really make use of something like life insurance products. Secondly, how do you exactly know whether you are buying the right product, the right kind of insurance and whether it suits your demands? At Bajaj Allianz, we have information and plans available online, but we also focus on offline activities to approach consumers.


Q] What are the marketing activities that you undertake to build your brand? What is your media mix?

When we talk about the media mix, we have some traditional ways of media usage. We undertake many print campaigns, outdoor advertising and television advertisements. We are now also focusing on the digital medium, as it is the new emerging medium. There are certain on-ground campaigns also that we undertake. For instance, 1.5 lakh people die every year in road accidents in India. It is a huge number. To create an awareness programme, involve people and communicate the need for insurance, we started an on-ground campaign wherein we undertook lessons and tests of driving habits of people. We involved petrol pumps and citizens at large for this.


Q] What is the one attribute that differentiates Bajaj Allianz from its rivals in this highly competitive market? What’s your USP?

One factor that clearly separates Bajaj Allianz is approach to consumers. I believe constant learning from them is the core of our philosophy. Learning from consumers and effectively communicating the lessons we have learnt - the two-way approach of marketing is the basis of our campaigns.


Q] What is your biggest challenge today?

In the insurance sector, as I said before, it is important to touch the right chord with potential consumers. I believe this is one area where communication plays an important role. If we have understood the consumers and their demands accurately, then communicating and touching the right chord with potential consumers becomes crucial. I think this is one area where we have to understand the role of consumers. You may call it a challenge.


Q] What do you have to say about increasing FDI in the insurance sector? How will it improve the current scenario?

There is no doubt that an increase in FDI in the sector will have a significant impact on the industry. If we talk about Bajaj Allianz in particular, then there is no shortage of capital in the company to my knowledge. As long as there is no serious capital requirement, there is nothing much to worry about.



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