Abhinav Iyer, Head – Marketing & Strategy, Muthoot Finance says the company is planning to launch its marketing campaign soon. He adds that it’s a wait and watch game as far as cricket sponsorships go
What is the core marketing philosophy of The Muthoot Group?
The Muthoot Group is one of India’s largest financial services brands and Trust is an integral component of our business ethics. Our marketing philosophy also addresses and reinforces the trust component and gets reflected in our marketing communications.
From a business perspective, a World Gold Council (WGC) report states that there is nearly 25,000 tons of gold amongst Indian households. Less than 10% of this is actually monetized and furthermore, less than 50% of this is with the organised sector. So, there’s a huge growth potential for this category and for trusted and organised players like us. In fact, we are not fighting for this 10% but as a category leader we are looking to grow the pie and bring in more customers into the realm of gold financing.
Our primary marketing objective is to bring in more and more new customers into the ambit of gold loans by growing the category in a big way. Our marketing objective is to introduce such a simple, viable, ready to avail and smart loan option to new loan seekers and help them overcome the barriers and dispel the inhibitions associated with this great product.
The Muthoot Group has seen a marketing transformation over the last few years. Can you elaborate on this?
We flagged off our marketing transformation by bringing on board actor Amitabh Bachchan as our brand ambassador. He epitomizes trust, his appeal cuts across audiences, age groups and geographies and these qualities resonate with the brand.
We followed this with our partnership with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – one of IPL’s most successful franchisees – as their “Principal Team Partner” for a period of three years. Tamil Nadu being an important market for us with more than 900 branches and over 150 branches in Chennai alone, partnering with CSK brought the elephants and lions together and created the much needed impact.
Another important reason to associate with CSK was the captain of the team, cricketer MS Dhoni who is seen to be a highly trustworthy, reliable, dependable, balanced and versatile player and an equally respected leader, again something that strongly resonated with the brand.
Though we leveraged this association across the nation; but especially from a South Strategy perspective, this partnership with CSK worked extremely well for the brand; particularly in Tamil Nadu.
Another notable aspect of our marketing transformation journey was taking up the semi-naming rights for Delhi’s premium Greater Kailash Metro Station and Chennai’s elite Nandanam Metro Station. We believe to have created a signature OOH property in these cities with these strong media partnerships. Both the metros are located on arterial roads with high footfalls and heavy vehicular traffic outside the metros. While transit media greatly helps in creating awareness, build reach and frequency; we also look at them as properties that help in building brand stature.
Can you tell us about your media mix?
We adopt an all-round approach when it comes to media selection. Our media mix has a healthy balance between television, radio, print, cinema, OOH, transit media, activations and other forms of BTL promotion.
During the last financial year, our efforts have been well-received and markets have responded favourably to our efforts. Results announced for the 9-Month period for FY2019-20 witnessed a 21% Y-o-Y growth in Consolidated Loan Assets Under Management and 49% Y-o-Y growth in Consolidated Profit After Tax. This is a testimony to our marketing efforts and its delivery, besides others.
Are you looking to increase your marketing budgets this year?
We are certainly looking to grow our business and significantly increase our Assets Under Management. From that perspective, yes, we are certainly looking at increasing our marketing budget and optimizing it too.
However, we all need to bear in mind that these are challenging times and a measured approach will need to be adopted considering the current situation. The last two months have been extremely difficult for everyone; especially families and businesses. We are reviewing our marketing plans and advertising approach going forward to account for such disruptions. At the same time, we are also planning to launch our next marketing campaign soon with an objective to help businesses revive; aid economic activity and help more and more people to get easy, instant and hassle-free access to credit.
In the current scenario, sporting activities have been postponed and activations cancelled. Are you re-strategizing your marketing activities to engage with your consumers?
These are uncertain times and probably no one can predict what is in the offing for the coming few months, if not longer. BCCI has postponed IPL 2020 indefinitely considering the impact of the ongoing pandemic and the lockdown. Hence, as far as Cricket is concerned, it will be a wait and watch game for everyone until there is more clarity.
On the need to re-strategize; we are certainly focusing more than before on digital. One thing which we have started doing a lot more is creating increased awareness about our digital services like Muthoot Online and iMuthoot Mobile App through active digital and social media engagement. Our customers can use these two services to pay their interest online, avail loan top-ups and do much more using these digital services.
I would also like to mention that over the last five to six weeks, we have also invested heavily in carrying out a number of CSR works benefitting countless migrant workers, daily wage earners and poor people who are severely affected due to Covid-19. We have distributed over 50,000 ration kits, over 45,000 ready to eat food packets directly & through food kitchens; over 60,000 face masks; over 10,000 bottles of hand sanitizers; over 10,000 pairs of hand-gloves and over 6,000 PPE Kits to hospitals. Much more is being done and we are glad that these relief works are being extremely well-received and reaching the needy sections of our society.
Your thoughts on IPL?
We are a franchisee partner and our larger objective is to support the sport. The current situation is beyond anyone’s control and hence as a sponsor we support the franchisee; the board and the nation by supporting the decisions that have been taken in the right earnest keeping the best intentions in mind.
As a brand, what are the challenges you face?
As a brand, one of the greatest challenges that we face is battling perceptions.
Our challenge is to transform the way people perceive gold loans – not look at it as measure of last resort. Said differently, our biggest challenge is to convince more and more loan seekers that gold loan is a “Smart Option”, not a Last Option.
As Brand Custodians, we are endeavouring to bring about an attitudinal transformation amongst people that gold loan is the best way to meet your financial requirements by monetizing an idle-lying asset. Once you credit need is met; you can always pay-back your dues and get your asset back in the same pristine condition as it was while being pledged. Simply said, our objective is to drive out the hesitation associated with gold loans and encourage people to take it with pride.
I would say this is our greatest challenge but having said that, we have come a long way. By serving over 2.5 Lac customers every day; this attitudinal transformation is happening in a big way, every day. Our 40,000+ Group employees are leading this transformation agenda dedicatedly throughout our 5000+ branches.
I am sure the day is not far when the entire nation will acknowledge us as being the ‘Guardians of Trust who empower Society to Unlock the True Potential of their Emotional Currency’