Edelweiss Group has recently introduced new retail offerings for diverse consumer needs. Shabnam Panjwani of Edelweiss tells us why the brand has chosen to attach greater importance to building preference over awareness in a cluttered category
BY CHRISTINA MONIZ
Q] Your latest campaigns feature Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan. What makes him a good fit for Edelweiss?
Before we designed our recent SME campaign featuring Irrfan Khan, we first decided to talk to our target consumers. Contrary to what we usually see in any communication around SMEs, these people are not downtrodden and are not always living a difficult life. These are people with a lot of confidence and have the ability to take risks, walking away from a regular, well paid job. We did this engagement with our target consumers around the same time that the movie Hindi Medium had released and that was when we realized that Irrfan Khan’s character in the movie perfectly represented the people we were trying to talk to! That’s when we decided that he would be the face of the brand. Irrfan Khan lends authenticity to our communication and he became a natural fit for the brand. Our campaigns have been very well received and we have received positive feedback from consumers. In fact, after the campaign, our retail finance business which has been on a run rate revenue of about Rs 480 crores moved to Rs 650 crores for the first time!
Q] In the past, Edelweiss has faced the challenge of low brand awareness. Have the recent campaigns helped tobuild greater brand awareness?
Edelweiss has largely been an institutional brand with its roots in investment banking and private equity. It is only in the past few years that we have taken the retail route. However, even as far back as in 2007-08, our chairman, Rashesh Shah was very clear that we connect with the customers and that we continue to provide a differentiated space for ourselves. Back then, since we were B2B, our approach was different but now that we are in the retail space, we have rolled out several communication campaigns. In fact, I still remember one of our first campaigns was launched on September 17, 2008, two days after the entire financial world collapsed. While we withdrew our campaign then because the sentiment was wrong, we came back in January the next year and were one of the few brands in the industry to advertise. Likewise, in 2010-11 during the economic slowdown, we did the “Now I Can” campaign where our messaging was all about empowering consumers. Thereafter, we launched the Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance campaign, and have since upped both our decibel levels as well as our spends. However, awareness has never really been our focus. We are more about building consideration and preference for the brand. Therefore, we provide our customers with differentiated but relevant product offerings such as SME loans, housing loans, construction finance etc. So while our awareness numbers have grown, our consideration numbers are actually one of the highest in the industry.
Q] Can you give us an idea of your ad spends now? What is the media mix you employ for your campaigns?
We cannot really disclose information on ad spends but we definitely do as much as we can to ensure that that customer is receiving us at the right time on the right device. For most campaigns now, we try to do 360 degree communication. While we have definitely increased our advertising spends in the past few years, Digital is one medium that has been growing at 100% on a year-on-year basis in terms of spends.
Q] Given the varied products in your retail portfolio, how do you manage communication for each of them?
Messaging plays a key role for us. If my consumer is in the market for a home loan, I can go hoarse talking SME loans but that will do nothing for me or my consumer. What is important for consumers to know is that when they come to us, everything they want in terms of managing your finances is available here. Therefore PR has been one of our biggest marketing pillars because we provide a lot of content. We do a lot of research on categories and industries, and newspapers are interested in featuring content that is educational for consumers. The millennial is starting to think about managing finances a lot earlier and that was something that never happened before. Today, things are changing because everyone has a little more money than they did before and there is greater disposable income. Another interesting development is that interest rates have also fallen. Traditional offerings like fixed deposits don’t always give you the kind of returns you are looking for. Therefore, consumers are now looking at newer avenues to grow their assets. For instance, there was a data point from AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India) that SIP accounts grew by 39% in the period April 2017 to December 2017, as compared to the last fiscal of March 2016 to April 2017. That growth is huge, and it bodes very well for the financial services sector. This creates the perfect setting for us to build campaigns and communication to promote our various offerings. Our key messages focus on showcasing the fact that we create, we grow and we protect!
Q] Is there any communication specifically for women? Do you have plans to introduce products that are targeted at women entrepreneurs?
Women are definitely an important target group for us – they make up about 50% of the population, but financial services do not talk to them. In our campaigns and communication, we are talking about women but we haven’t yet found a niche for them. However, some of our communication pieces celebrate the woman entrepreneur. We are definitely looking at creating products for women that are tailored to suit their specific requirements. Women are a section of influencers driving important decisions and we cannot afford to ignore them. Every year, a large number of young women excel in the SSC, ICSE and CBSE exams. These will be future consumers and financial planners and we have to keep that in mind when we look at introducing new services and offerings.
Q] What kind of growth have you seen, especially with entry into the retail space?
From being tagged a ‘brokerage house’ to becoming a leading diversified financial services firm, especially in the last six years - we offer advice across all asset classes in financial services. As a group, we have shown 27 quarters of consistent growth, quarter-on-quarter. Every one of our businesses has grown. While in the wholesale businesses of Edelweiss, we are in a leadership position in many of the businesses, we have a 4-5% market share in the institutional equities business. We are the leaders in private placement and in public debt. And we are the largest asset reconstruction company in India. Where retail businesses are concerned, we are amongst the newer entrants into almost all financial services segments and have been rapidly climbing the ranks with our focus on high quality and customer-centric businesses.
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