Mind your Marketing

Create memories

| Updated on June 20, 2019 Published on June 20, 2019

Shabnam Panjwani, Head, Marketing and Communications, Edelweiss Group

This edition of Mind your Marketing features a conversation with Shabnam Panjwani, Head, Marketing and Communications, Edelweiss Group, where she spearheads brand positioning and thought leadership and has led various initiatives to establish the Edelweiss brand in the highly cluttered and competitive financial services space.

Have millennials and GenZ transformed the way businesses approach marketing?

Over the last decade or so, marketers are better able to segment, view and respond to differences quicker through the entire marketing and brand engagement process. While the BFSI industry is not necessarily focussed on GenZ, and millennials, they seem to display a higher propensity towards investment and financial understanding; the fact remains that it is not only the age gap that is the difference. GenZ is the future customer and we must be aware that both these segments should not be treated in the same way.

Both have a higher propensity to technology and clever device marketing will lead to them. But here onwards differences emerge, GenZ is a digital native and, therefore, interacts via many more devices and digital platforms than millennials. For both, authenticity of the brand and offering are important, more so with GenZ for whom social and environmental responsibilities and causes strike a greater chord. Having said that GenZ is a restless set, low on loyalty and less taken up with brand auras that are related only to a product offering. To them, a brand must be cause-driven, purposeful and have a role to play for the greater good.

Marketers, therefore, have to rely on engaging content that is relevant and that can grab the notoriously low attention span (it is 4-8 seconds for GenZ!) of both these segments. For instance, our unique podcast ‘FinTalk’, run by the Wealth Advisory team at Edelweiss, connects with the millennials. It is a simplified, jargon-free investment chat of 5-7 minutes dealing with topics of relevance to the younger set. Edelweiss FinTalk breaks down complex finance situations, peppering it with live examples making it relatable.

What are the best ways to connect with and to sell to this audience?

Gone are the days of plastic situations, fake emotions and melodrama. The ‘K’ serial brigade has no pulse on this young lot that feeds off real people and real emotions. Millennials and GenZ are quick to call out regressive narratives and are equally quick in critiquing marketers and brands that do not understand the need for nuancing or of displaying a progressive and real face.

While GenZ prefer to share their thoughts and actions – a more ‘Look at what I just did…’ mode in social media -- Millennials tend to emphasise their experiences as ‘This is what I feel…’

Millennials rationale behind buying the brand is to reflect not only their beliefs, but also their style and personality. On the other hand, GenZers want to see real, relatable people in marketing campaigns.

What are the specific technologies that have driven these changes?

Consider that 85% of millennials own smartphones and 46% use them while in stores to compare prices, read reviews on social media, and even find coupons. Emergence of extremely powerful mobiles has led to this generation being constantly connected with technology at 4G speeds, and these are some of the technologies which have changed how

brands market themselves. Marketing to millennials and GenZ should be done as per their convenience and through their channels to reap maximum benefits.

With AR and VR technologies being increasingly displayed, experiential marketing allows users to see, feel, touch and smell; brands are no longer amorphous but demonstrable.

What do you need to win in the marketplace - better technology or better ideas?

Better ideas for sure! Technology is always there to aid ideas. One of the most successful companies in the world Apple markets ideas and not technology. In their brand promotion, the emphasis is on the benefit, the problem being solved or the experience. Having said this, my constant support and enabler at Edelweiss is the Group CTO, who is also the CDO, who helps in building out the idea with the right solution.

What makes customer experiences the differentiator of the future?

Customers across the globe are increasingly comparing experiences across industries – why can’t a certain product/service be as easy to use as PayTM or Uber or iPhone. Therefore, the comparative set is now wider and cross category. Five years ago, who would have thought that SBI and Google (GooglePay) could end up competing with each other? Only organisations that look beyond their respective categories (Insurance, Banking, etc.), will end up creating truly memorable and meaningful experiences for their customers. Therefore, being cutting-edge and an early provider of intuitive customer experiences largely on the digital platform will be the differentiator.


a) My top three marketing buzzwords for 2019

Customise, engage, impact

b) One strategic change we plan to execute by 2020

Building a seamless marketing analytics platform that every one of our retail businesses can leverage and multiply impact and regionalisation in-line with our retailisation.

c) Three concepts I believe define a hot brand

Purposeful, customer-centric, connect

d) A powerful ad campaign I liked from 2018

‘Koi bhi limit, limit nahin’ for the Commonwealth and Asian Games and Edelweiss’ SME campaign featuring Irrfan Khan

How do you bridge the gap between expectations and experiences?

* People unconsciously value the complete ’experience’ rather than specific product features (something our tried focus group research methodology has yet to decode), from routine or instinct based decisions to those made with memories and emotion.

* For brands to create memories, they have to deliver consistent, continuous and compelling experiences while keeping pace with rapidly evolving expectations.

* The current technology usage is just the tip of the iceberg. However, it is not about using a different or more advanced technology. It is about a different and better relationship with technology. It is about brands leveraging data and technology to understand people’s needs and the context of their lives to provide unexpected value.

What does it take for brands to stay competitive in today's dynamic economy and market?

Hyper-personalisation, in terms of offering and content. We are in a DIY era where most customers want to learn and understand about the product on their own. Content marketing and education play a key role to stay connected with the TG and build preference.

What are the three secrets to successful branding?

Consistency, purposeful idea, always contemporary and progressive

Can a one-size-fits-all approach work in a differentiated market such as India?

In a globalised and connected world, customers demand tailored solutions. This is not an easy task and requires constant listening, adapting, and innovating because every individual is different and has different set of goals, moods, and motivations. In our diverse country that has leapfrogged into the digital arena, the ‘Segment of One’ is probably every marketer’s dream. Easy to dream but difficult to implement.

Why and how should brands think local?

Many brands try to implement one-size-fits-all messaging model that fail to speak to local consumer needs and cultural realities. The story of Proctor & Gamble’s entry into the Japanese market with the launch of Pampers diapers comes to mind. They launched with the international Pampers packaging that had an image of a stork delivering a baby. While the packaging was effective in the U.S., sales didn’t take off in Japan until the packaging was changed. Why? P&G realised that the story of a stork bringing babies to parents didn’t exist in the Japanese culture. Many such examples are now good learnings, further propagating the need to be mindful of local ground realities and build on ideas that transcend both local cultures and global strategies.

How does your brand approach the Southern market when it comes to branding and consumer engagement?

Our retail businesses play a significant role in ensuring consistent brand visibility and engagement with consumers in this market. Regionalised content, local influencers, embedding local culture in brand stories are standard practices. Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance has a robust presence in the Southern region. We have a team of around 925 employees and over 6,300 advisors across 27 branches as well as two Banca partnerships – Catholic Syrian Bank and Fincare Small Finance Bank. Through this presence, we are able to reach out to the customer effectively and offer them our innovative insurance solutions. We are also able to gain specific customer insights that are helping us customise relevant solutions for our customers.

This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India.

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Published on June 20, 2019
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