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Our digital business is growing faster than offline, says Pankaj Gupta, CMO, HDFC Life

Gupta speaks about the importance of digital, various challenges associated with advertising in the insurance space and about its direct communication initiative #MemoryProject

Pankaj Gupta

Even as a lot of people research online about insurance products and buy offline and it is not easy to reflect the sales numbers coming from digital, private insurance major HDFC Life is witnessing faster growth on digital. "The influence in digital is more than what is reflected in numbers. Our digital business is growing faster than offline," said Pankaj Gupta, CMO, HDFC Life.

“Digital is not an easy term to define. A lot of people research about products online and later purchase through agents and relationship managers. Hence, the sales number wouldn’t completely reflect the sales coming from the digital medium,” added Gupta.

Riding on the digital transformation wave, Gupta also mentioned that the brand is ahead of the competition in utilising the digital space. He said, “We have been on our digital journey for the last four to five years. We have been ahead of the curve compared to the overall market. We believe we are the best-prepared company in terms of readiness to meet the challenges of the upcoming digital mind shift the market is seeing.”

Gupta thinks that advertising in the insurance category should always be emotionally linked to the consumers and given the complex nature of the category, functional advertising doesn’t work that well. “Emotional advertising works more for me in the life insurance category. Life insurance is not an easy product to communicate. Communicating the insurance nuances from the functional benefit perspective in a campaign is not easy because of the complexity of the product.”

With so many players in the market, it is difficult for the consumers to differentiate between communication pieces by various brands if they have to recall. Other than the taglines and product offerings, the style of communicating looks similar. Therefore, talking about the communication nuisances, Gupta said, “The challenge with life insurance is that many of the campaigns look very similar and it is indeed an on-going challenge for us and other marketers in the category for finding out the best way of communicating and differentiating ourselves from the rest. Thankfully, we have built our proposition ‘Sar utha ke jiyo’ as a strong differentiator, which we continue to use and it’s one of the highly recalled taglines in the category.”

To differentiate the brand in terms of communication from the rest in the market, the brand took to direct communication through the campaign ‘Memory Project’. The brand created a microsite where people are sharing their stories of grief after losing their loved ones, about love, loss, and nostalgia. A place to transit from grief to accepting loss and positively deal with it, by celebrating the living, those who have loved and overcome.

To amplify the project, the brand created two videos from the set of stories fans shared earlier to give the audience an idea of the kind of stories expected from the audience. The videos were promoted across HDFC Life’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

Gupta said, “The idea was to look at this as a cathartic experience by celebrating the memories associated with the loved ones rather than focusing only on the grief associated with a loss like this. It is very relevant to our core product proposition and category.”

A lot of consumers shy away buying insurance from private players and end up looking at government brands for insurance purposes. To which, pinpointing the changing consumer behaviour trend, Gupta said, “If you have to look at the market share evolution over the last so many years, consumers in India have been very open to the product offerings from different private life insurance players depending upon their needs. We have to remember that life insurance in India began in 1956 with LIC and until 2000, LIC was the only player. The private sector players are relatively new and it would be a journey for consumers to understand what the other private players have to offer. However, of late, private players are gaining share and we see a greater intent in the younger segment to buy from them. If you would observe the market share, it would reflect that.”

Currently, the brand works with Wavemaker as AoR for Media. Leo Burnett is the creative agency and the digital agencies are Resultrix and Webchutney.

Talking about the demand trend across tier 1, 2 and 3 cities, Gupta said that the next 20 cities are showing faster growth than the top 20 markets. HDFC Life is consistently ranked among the top three private players in individual and group business category with market share of 13.2% based on Individual WRP.

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