The economic climate has put pressure on marketing budgets for 2013 and the year calls for playing up some select consumer and marketing trends that are more pertinent, considering the dynamics and the current context of the Financial Services category.
1. Collaborate with other brands to drive consumption
India Inc. growth will be driven more by consumption growth rather than increasing product penetration. Brands will essentially be required to increase the share of wallet and to drive campaigns to steer product preference. Interesting way to build scale with lower budgets is to collaborate with other leading non-compete brands for collective gain. Joint marketing campaigns not only help pool resources, but also serve as a way to recommend each otherâ€™s brand, raising visibility to more clients. An example of collaborative marketing at Citibank India is the â€˜OMG! Saleâ€™ campaign.
2. Deliver Connected Experiences
Digital consumption is increasing at a rapid pace. Around 120 million Indians are connected online for more than 8 hours each day. The online space is increasingly becoming an important medium to not only consume content but to also transact. Marketers have already taken note of this development and digital advertising is growing at more than 40% in India even though total spends are declining. Marketers will benefit if they do not look at the medium in isolation but as an extension of the real world. With digital access pervasive at work, on the go and at home, consumers are rapidly moving between the physical world and the virtual world and the boundaries between them are disappearing. Brands need to be cognizant of the new consumer journey and offer connected experiences across the media channels.
3. Smarter Mobile Marketing
Last year, the smartphones market grew to a staggering 1 billion across the world, meaning every sixth person in the world has a smartphone. Indiaâ€™s smartphone market is being fueled by handset manufacturers who are feverishly making affordable smartphone products at sub-$100 price points. In parallel, telecommunication companies are heavily discounting 3G data access charges today to make consumer habituated to online consumption on the mobile, opening up future revenue streams. Marketers are already working on giving a higher share of their digital budgets for mobile platforms. However, it is important to note that the â€˜mobile marketing showâ€™ move beyond just advertising to taking advantage of the unique functionality this medium offers. This platform can be leveraged in a variety of ways such as SMS marketing, M-couponing, QR Code, location-based targeting, real-time reporting and personalised one-on-one marketing enablers. The platform can be used not only for marketing but also to serve clients better.
4. Strengthen Trust
Financial services marketers need to appreciate that trust deficit is the biggest challenge faced by the financial brands today as consumers in many markets still hold financial brands responsible for the recession or slowdown in their markets. Even though Indian banks have been safe, there continues to be caution that lingers in the mind of the clients and prospects about any financial brand. Our internal research has shown that trust is one of the most important drivers of brand preference.
5. Build creative repurpose capability
Till a few years back, video, print and audio creative content was delivered through standardised media channels: television, newspapers and radio. Today, a typical piece of brand messaging is consumed through a complex variety of platforms with multiple format-related restrictions. Interestingly, a website hosting the brand content needs to appear coherently across a 40 inches Smart TV, a 12-16 inches Laptop or Tablet and on a 2-3 inches Smartphone. This means that marketing back-ends need to produce campaigns with portable content that can be edited for various requirements. Speed is also important as a Twitter channel needs content feed twice a day while television channels use the one TVC for a month. A recent example at Citi where the core campaign idea was re-purposed and leveraged across a variety of online and offline media vehicles was the â€˜Dil v/s Billâ€™ campaign to promote EMI privileges during the festive season.
6. Analyse to personalise
Information has always been the backbone of any financial service player. In addition to demographic data, banks have access to high quality data for their client bases, the transaction history across products and access channels. In addition to the back-end data, more and more client or sales touch-points become digitised, and a very large amount of data is generated at the front-end. This presents the challenge of developing the capabilities to store, process and leverage data to glean deep insights about specific triggers for each customer to buy, consume or reject a product. Great brands will delight customers by surprising them by the extent of personalisation. At Citi, we launched a new Application on Facebook named â€˜My Privilegesâ€™ where the Bank makes customised recommendations for offers, such as in-dining.
7. Move from Product Marketing to Relationship Marketing
Most financial services brands enter the market to gain a foothold for a specific product in a specific category. Over time, when these institutions grow into a multi-category service provider it starts using multiple, and often overlapping channels of communication to market to the same client. This is not only inefficient but also ends up leaving a poor brand impression. Relationship marketing however, works on a fundamentally different principle wherein each organisation engages with the client from a holistic point of view and not just from a product point of view. The front-end sales process is much more consultative and product agnostic, leading to the right product being marketed to the right client.
8. Develop Proprietary Content
Large segments of clients and prospects look at financial brands to advice and guide them on matters ranging from wealth management to debt consolidation. To win consumer confidence it is important for financial brands to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership by generating proprietary content that enables consumers to take important financial decisions. The advances in technology have made it easier for brands to broadcast and share proprietary content with their consumers in formats ranging from websites, social media platforms such as LinkedIn, webinars, white papers and newsletters.
Urban agglomeration and the increasing trend of nuclear families have made Indian consumers time starved. As a large chunk of hitherto leisure time is now spent stuck in either unproductive areas–traffic or extra responsibility of taking care of family demands–the typical Indian consumer is likely to be deficit in time and attention. In such a scenario, ease of use will increasingly emerge as a powerful differentiator for service brands. In such a scenario, it is of paramount important to have client interfaces that are simpler and more intuitive that make the bank and its processes look less intimidating. Citiâ€™s â€˜SMS to Callâ€™ functionality, has cut down the waiting period between converting an SMS inquiry to a call back to two minutes from two days.