ABOUT THE BRAND
Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd is a 74:26 joint venture between Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., its affiliates and Old Mutual Plc. The company combines its international strengths and local advantages to offer its customers a wide range of innovative life insurance products, helping them take important financial decisions at every stage in life and stay financially independent. The company covers over three million lives and is one of the fastest growing insurance companies in India.
Elizabeth Venkataraman is responsible for brand management, sales support, product development and corporate communications. She has been with the Kotak Mahindra Group since 2004, and assumed her current responsibility at Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance in 2009. In her immediate prior assignment, she headed the Marketing function at Kotak Securities, where she was instrumental in conceptualizing and developing Kotak Securities' much acclaimed 'Customer Contactability' Programme. She has over 17 years of professional experience spanning diverse sectors such as Computer Hardware, Automobiles, FMCG and Banking. She holds an MBA (Marketing) degree from Narsee Monji Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
Q] Many in the industry believe that insurance products are sold and not bought. What role does marketing of insurance products play here?
Insurance is a fundamental product because of the mortality related financial risk it mitigates. Insurance encourages the regular long term savings habit. Yet, insurance remains a push rather than pull product not just in India but even in mature markets, so our situation is not unique. Marketing plays a critical role in informing and educating citizens at large on the centrality of insurance through the means of advertising, PR, seminars and workshops.
Q] How does your strategy align with India's growing needs for life insurance?
Insurance penetration in India is estimated to be around 4.6% and our country is hugely under-insured. In the absence of any defined social security mechanism, insurance offers the best alternative. Therefore, beyond business, the insurance industry also has a huge social responsibility. At Kotak Life, we have consistently met and exceeded our rural and social targets over the years. We even have a dedicated product for the rural market – Kotak Gramin Bima Yojana. Our outreach strategy combining advertising, PR, seminars and workshops educate investors on different aspects of the financial life cycle planning and help them align their life and financial goals better.
Q] The insurance sector is already hyper-competitive. Who are your target consumers and how do you plan to draw their attention through your marketing initiatives?
Our marketing initiatives draw consumer attention to our superior product and service offerings. To make the communication more appealing, our messaging tends to be fresh and innovative yet relevant and credible. So if you take our ‘Chotu Kya Banega’ campaign in 2010 or ‘Another You’ campaign this year, this is a common thread. The numerous consumer awareness workshops and client meets we conduct also tend to be broad-based on holistic financial life cycle planning, rather than insurance alone making it more appealing and relevant. We offer an excellent choice of pure risk, market linked and traditional products addressing different life cycle needs of all individuals in the insurable age bracket. Hence, the spectrum of appeal is very high.
Q] Recently, many insurance companies have gone beyond the General Insurance cover to target the underpenetrated sectors. How do you plan to target these sectors?
Within the insurance space, there are companies offering general insurance (home, car insurance etc), life insurance and health insurance mitigating different types of life cycle risk and operate as separate entities. As a life insurance company, our focus is exclusively on mitigating the financial risk associated with the loss of life. In this domain we have developed products addressing different investor needs and risk appetites – insurance products on the traditional, ULIP and pure risk platforms addressing needs as diverse as pure protection or protection combined with second income, pensions, children’s marriage and education through both online and offline modes, creating a brand proposition that will appeal to a wide and diverse audience.
Q] Could you shed some light on Group Life Insurance Plans? What has been the response to it?
Group Life Insurance, as the name suggests, refers to life insurance cover offered to clusters of individuals united under a common administration such as a business corporation. The corporation or employer owns the policy. Such policies could also cover family members of employees or staff. Kotak Life offers a variety of products on the group platform ranging from term covers to gratuity. Our Group business is doing well.
Q] What are the marketing activities that you undertake to build your brand? What is your media mix?
We have TV, radio, outdoor, cinema, digital and social media as part of the current campaign initiative. TV ads will run across 32 different Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu channels. The outdoor campaign in Hinglish, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam will cover 66 cities. These will be augmented by Radio, Digital and Social Media campaign. Below the Line (BTL) will use branding in client communication, use of promotional material by channel partners and distributors in the sales process and communication besides roadshows and events. For internal audiences, we did a teaser campaign prior to the release of the ad, and while the ad is on air, we will engage consistently in regular employee communication to keep the interest levels high in the campaign. Contests are planned and promotional materials around the advertisement developed for use by the sales force and other teams in client communication. The media mix for the current campaign is as follows: TV – 60%, Outdoor – 25%, Others (Radio, digital, cinema) – 15%.
Q] Insurance companies have adopted different strategies for different age groups in India. Do you have a different marketing strategy to target each age group?
The financial needs and priorities at different points in one’s life are different. Hence the pivots of appeal for different age groups are different and the marketing strategy too has to reflect this reality. So, marketing for different products typically tends to be customized to the needs of a specific age group for reasons of relevance, credibility and appeal. For instance, marketing for child plans would revolve around what would appeal to young parents whereas pension plans are targeted at working professionals and so on. Age is, however, only one factor. Other factors such as the individual’s socio-economic status, risk appetite and investment objectives are equally important and are usually part of the consideration set along with age.
Q] Trust is an important factor in marketing campaigns of insurance plans. Another You campaign seems to be focused on a different approach. What was your approach to the campaign?
The campaign revolves around the concept of guaranteed second income and is pegged to Kotak Assured Income Plan, our flagship product, which guarantees a regular fixed second income. The concept of ‘another you’ prods the observer (viewer/reader) to dwell on the meaningful difference it would make to her or his life, if there were to be another her or him, resulting in double the benefit. The ad combines impressively shot visuals spanning different everyday and easy to relate scenarios, where each protagonist is benefited by the coming of her or his double, played to a catchy jingle inspired by the evergreen hit ‘Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Mein Aaye’ from the hit Hindi movie Qurbani. This theme was arrived at based on our research of customer need analysis. Given the weak economic sentiment, and concerns arising therein such as the reducing value of money and income not keeping pace with inflation, an increasing number of people are seeking the safety of lower risk investments which could provide them a regular, second income to hedge that risk and help better fulfill life’s essential needs. Kotak Assured Income Plan, our flagship product, addresses precisely this need, whereby on a payment term of 15 years, the policy-holder earns a fixed amount every year starting the 11th year, for the next 20 years. Our campaign draws its relevance from this backdrop and seeks to effectively marry the product to a strongly felt consumer need.
Q] What are the newly launched services/products by Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance?
We have launched an online policy manager using which customers can pay premiums and manage their policies online. We also recently launched an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service which enables policy-holders to access information on their policy or proposal status, details on premium due, latest fund value, net asset value (NAV) details, confirmation of payments and also re-verify policy information and request for statements and receipts. Over the last year, we have also introduced several new products. Over the last two months alone, we introduced two traditional (Non Unit Linked) child plans - Kotak Child Edu Plan and Kotak Child Future Plan - and an investment oriented Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP), Kotak Invest Maxima.
Q] What challenges do you see coming ahead, from an industry perspective?
The industry has undergone major transformation over the last year and insurance companies will focus a lot of effort and energy in aligning themselves better to succeed in the new business environment. For customers, it promises to be a good year. It can be captured in three words – more choice, better service and lower costs. Quality of agency force will get better and insurance will prove a rewarding long term investment. Lower cost of intermediation will result in more benefit to the customer. Term plans and single invest plans will witness a lot of customer interest.
Q] What is the one attribute that differentiates Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance from its rivals in this highly competitive market?
The Kotak brand is renowned for its investment expertise and this is a major differentiator. On this we build our wide product portfolio that holds appeal for a wide cross section of the population, geographic network and reach and superior customer service.