When it comes to subliminal marketing, it can be said that most financial products are marketed keeping men in mind. Financial products benefit the whole family but they are generally aimed at the bread earner of the family, assumed to be a man.
According to a Nielsen report, the percentage of women making investment decisions independently jumped from 37 per cent in 2013 to 52 per cent in 2016.
In the last few years, there has been a growth in women contributing to the economy. As the income of women increases, banks and investment platforms use it to their opportunity.
Between 2015 and 2016, BankBazaar saw a 183 per cent growth in the number of female visitors to the platform. Call it demonetisation impact or growing awareness about investing money in the right manner, between January 2017 and October 2017, which is less than 10 months, the company saw a 126 per cent growth in the number of female visitors.
Having a bullish view, Prince Thomas, Head, Brand marketing, BankBazaar, said, “Over the remaining year, we are expecting this number to increase further and foresee almost 200 per cent increase in the number of female visitors to BankBazaar in 2017 compared to 2016.”
Another E-commerce finance start-up, 5nance.com, has more than 25 per cent of the total investors as women and expects the number of women visiting their website to grow.
Slowly, marketers are realising the need to market to women and launching women-specific products. But it’s high time for brands to strengthen their efforts in marketing and communicating directly to women.
Ambi M G Parameswaran, Brand Strategist and Founder, Brand-Building.com, finds women a huge consumer target they can tap on. He said, “Indian banks have been targeting women consumers for some time now, but it is good to see them renew their efforts. The number of women joining the workforce has surprisingly shown a decline [as per some reports]. This only means that we have a large number of well-educated women who are looking for outlets for their highly paid education. Some of them would be satisfied with home and childcare duties. But many will want to have a greater say in the management of the family’s financial resources. Making them visit the bank more often. Some will undoubtedly enter the entrepreneurial space. Again an opportunity for banks to target them.”
Mass media communication is an expensive marketing tool and marketers have limited budgets to communicate to its target audience. It is believed that most of the investors are men. Even at times when the wives are earning women, very often they give the investment responsibility to their husbands.
Talking about his dilemma, Ajay Kakkar, Chief Marketing Officer, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, said, “Every marketer has a finite budget. The fact is that if you have enough budget to look at the majority (men) and the minority (women) of the decision makers, I am sure there would be products and communication at large where you would also see women targeted. Because mass media is expensive, we are talking to men directly and women are also covered.”
Raisa Kazi, VP, Digital Marketing & Brand Strategy at 5nance.com, raises a very important point that banking and insurance companies miss out. She stated, “At times brands too fall into the trap of following societal norms. In fact, brands create, drive and at times encourage certain kind of behaviour among the target group. The language, imagery, colours and content used in any type of communication create an impression on the audience and leads to an action. Indian society has always seen men leading the financial domain. As a father, a brother, a husband or even as a friend, mostly they are the ones who take decisions on her behalf or help her decide.”
Some marketers believe that it doesn’t matter who your target audience or the protagonist of the communication piece is till the time it is striking an emotional chord with all. Subhrangshu Neogi-Director, Head of Group Marketing & Brand, Religare, said, “Conventionally if you see, it is a male-dominated category and therefore the communication is slightly skewed towards males. In the last couple of years, the communication is also changing. At the end of the day, a financial instrument is a financial instrument whether a man is narrating the story or a woman, it doesn’t matter.”
Upendra Namburi, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance, believes that one should communicate to the family rather than focussing on men and women separately. “In the business we are in, the communication should be specific to the family. Bharti AXA’s communication is more towards family,” he said.
Kakkar gave an example of an old SBI Life advertisement where it struck the emotional chord with all, irrespective of the gender. In the ad, a retired man gave a diamond piece to his wife and said ‘Heera ko kya pata tumhari umar’ (Diamond cannot gauge your age)
The SBI Life campaign:
Kakkar added, “I learned very early in my life from Piyush Pandey (Ogilvy & Mather). You don’t have to look at your target audience in the film for you to relate to them. You don’t have to target the product as well. You have to have an emotion and that could come any which way. If you strike the right emotion, it will relate to everyone.”
But the times are changing and brands have started realising the need to communicate to women directly. For a year, we are seeing more women-centric campaigns in the finance category. For example, ICICI’s ‘#FundYourOwnWorth’ campaign and various campaigns by Axis bank featuring Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone.
Neogi added, “Historically the communication has also been focused towards them. But in last few years, the scenario is rapidly changing as the women are becoming more aware, conscious and financially independent they too are playing an active role in the decision making for financial products. Women-centric plans and offerings are also becoming more common though it may not be as widespread as other categories. As the socio-economic scenario evolves at large, the communication too will evolve accordingly.”
In its initial days of advertising only, BankBazaar realised the need to focus women and was among the early ones to advertise keeping the protagonist as women. Because of which, BankBazaar’s campaign #PlayYourPart became a huge success.
Holding a very balanced view, Arun Iyer, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas, thinks that “Too much queue on either side is not good and, therefore, the financial advertising should consider both the genders while creating campaigns.”
It’s time that financial brands refocus their efforts, and the tools they’re developing, towards women.
Kazi ended, “Today you see more than 90 per cent of the financial brands talking to men only. Woman is just a support element in it. Indian women are better financial decision makers than men; they have learnt the art of saving, investing and managing money since childhood. If she is encouraged by financial brands to take her own decisions and at the same time comforted with right content and language, I am sure they will lead this domain too.”