Aiming to be the most preferred brand in the NBFC space, Rajneesh Chawla, Group Head, Marketing and Communications, Indiabulls Group talks about his new direction and focus for the brand, the first step being consolidation of all marketing efforts
BY DIPALI BANKA
Q] It’s only been over a month that you have joined Indiabulls, how has the change been so far? What’s going to be your first step here in terms of marketing and branding?
My first priority is to consolidate. The group is very strong and individual companies are also very strong in their own space. I am looking forward to consolidate all as one unit so that we can leverage each other’s strength within the group and express ourselves as a much stronger and relevant brand.
Q] But would the customer set not vary for each company, say, for housing finance, real estate and ventures?
Actually, I see a lot of synergies, because the TG that I am looking at is pretty similar across the products in our portfolio. There could be some variations in the housing loan segment wherein I may have an affordable housing customer who is slightly different from other segments, but other than that the standard customer definition that I am looking at is the urban, young and the millennial plus segment to whom we want to project ourselves as a technology-oriented and customer-focused brand.
Q] So, as you plan to consolidate the entire marketing and communication function under one umbrella, how do you plan to bring together all the different agencies that each brand has, respectively?
I am not planning to change anything on the agency front immediately. My stated position even to the agencies has been that at least for next six to eight months, I would work with all of them, the way they are currently operating, obviously, with a new focus, inputs and directions that I want to work with. Then it would depend on who comes up to speed, delivers on the expectations and shows us their initiatives and innovations in the next six to eight months. That would be the assessment period for me. Post that if needed, I may take a call of consolidating agencies.
Q] What is your immediate brief to the agencies? What is the new direction and focus for each?
Overall if I look at my positioning, financially, we are a very strong brand. In a span of 15 years, we have become the second largest NBFC in the country. My way forward to build that further is two-fold. The first is through consolidation and the other is to be more customer facing. For that, I need help and support from all my agencies, be it my creative, media or execution agencies. I am looking at building on customer experience and transparency, which as a result should build trust in my brand, so that in the next three to five years time, we are seen as the most preferred brand in the BFSI space. That’s the vision that we have and we are seeking support from all our partners and agencies in that direction.
Q] Your last TVC was specially targeted towards migrants. What has been the learning from that particular positioning of the brand? And what’s going to be the next step for the brand from there?
We realized that there are 60% of home buyers in the metro cities today that are actually not from those cities. They have come from both small and big towns to work here. It’s a huge number. That was why we worked on that particular campaign and it has given us very positive results so far in terms of brand positioning. We would like to consolidate and build on that positioning. For example, so far we had shown one kind of family in a particular situation. We could show an extension of that particular theme, maybe to different subsectors, or some other classes of customers or build some social stories around it, stating how the product and our association is helping them to settle down better in the city.
Q] On the digital front you have quite a lot of campaigns going on alongside. What’s your approach on that front?
There are two different objectives in Digital that we follow. One is purely the performance side wherein we look at Digital as a business channel. So, there our entire approach and theme is to build around the same campaign, wherein we are looking at home-buyers and approaching them and appealing to them with our campaign theme. The other aspect of Digital is engagement. This moves either contextually, topically or seasonally.
Q] How effective is digital media for brands today? What is your criteria of measurement for digital campaign effectiveness?
Digital is a very strong channel, because that is where the customer is today. It is far more accountable and measurable. Whether it is giving you the ROI or not is something each brand can define for itself. As for us, as long as Digital in the immediate term is delivering business results in my acceptable cost, I am happy with it. Even if it is slightly above my acceptable cost, that delta I am considering is my investment for the future.
Q] What has been your key learning from your earlier assignments that you are trying to implement here?
Engaging with the customer on a one-to-one basis works best for a brand. From the overall brand-building approach, customer experience is key. That is a learning and I want to carry it forward, build on it and inculcate it in the culture and practices that we have in this organization.
Q] How do you effectively reach out to the Tier II and Tier III towns? Which is the best medium to reach out to those customers?
So far, we have been using regional Print as a medium to reach out to those customers, plus Digital. Going forward, I am planning to add BTL as part of my reach to Tier II and Tier III customers. We have not been using that very aggressively here, but now we are strengthening the team and consolidating the entire group’s efforts. We will be taking them together in this market.
Q] In terms of BFSI, and specifically the home loan segment, there is intense competition from PSUs, private banks and other BFSI companies. Also the rates are very competitive and there is not much differentiation that you can offer in your products. How do your strengthen your brand in such a scenario?
We create that brand differentiation with the experience. As you rightly said, there is hardly any product differentiation because the rates, the structure, the overall product offering is very similar across the industry - be it private, PSU banks or NBFC. So, what matters the most is your ‘go-to’ market strategy and the customer experience, which is where we have been focusing a lot in the previous year and we will build on that further to improve that.
Q] The real estate market today is very tepid but we see housing finance companies showing growth of 20-30%. So, who are you financing?
When we say that the real estate market is not growing, people are not really considering the resale market which is actually working below the radar, especially in the mid-tier or low-tier, which is where you would see all the banks and NBFCs including us, reporting very good growth in the affordable housing segment. Ticket sizes are going down; that’s where the growth is happening.
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