Exclusive | Life Ins business, in a consolidation phase: Aviva's Rishi Piparaiya

Aviva Group one of UK’s largest insurers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance is committed to serving their customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which their people are proud to work.

Aviva India, a joint venture between Dabur Group and Aviva Group has current paid up capital amounting to Rs 2,004 crore. Dabur Group is the 74% shareholder while Aviva Group holds 26%. Aviva Group is a UK based insurance company and one of the world’s oldest insurance Groups, with a history dating back to 1696. Aviva India’s products have been designed to provide customers flexibility, transparency and value for money. We address all lifecycle needs of a customer – savings, protection, investment and retirement.

Adgully caught up with Rishi Piparaiya, Director Marketing, Aviva to know more about the brand’s journey, their marketing, digital and online strategies for their products and the significant growth of the life insurance industry.

Speaking about his journey and his association with the Aviva Group, he said, “Working with Aviva has helped me get a completely different perspective about scale and diversity. The leadership philosophy that I personally believe in is ‘doing things differently’. You need to have the courage to make some unconventional decisions as there are too many people and too many organizations doing the same things. One needs to take risks and challenge the status quo and one needs to give one's team the space as well as freedom to experiment.”

Aviva boasts of a wide network across the country and strong Bancassurance partnerships with banks across rural and urban India. The opportunity to manage a large diverse sales team and develop marketing strategies for their products has been exhilarating for Piparaiya.

Recently Aviva India had launched their new brand campaign 'What's your Big Plan'. Speaking about the rationale behind taking this initiative, he said, “As part of the insights study that we conducted, we realized that education remains one of the key concerns of parents. According to the survey, 72% Indian parents are saving for their child’s future. However, a whopping 81% do not know how to be financially prepared for the same.

We, at Aviva, believe every child has dreams and plans for his/her future, and parents have a very important role to play in encouraging their child to dream big and in fulfilling their dreams. Through the ‘What’s your big plan’ campaign, we aim to not only give children a platform to aspire for a brighter future, but also help parents find out about their child’s big plan so that they can start preparing themselves financially to be able to support these plans.”

The question that arises now is, how will this campaign which gives children an opportunity to win scholarships make a difference to young parents who wish to secure their child’s future and fulfil their aspirations? Answering this query he said, “For a parent, being part of the journey of their child’s success is one of the biggest achievements and we decided to lend our support to them in a small way, through this campaign. We want parents to find out about their child’s big plans and start planning for it now so that they are financially prepared to fulfill these plans once he/she grows up. Every parent wants to see their child’s dreams fulfilled and one can look at this campaign as a stepping stone towards ensuring a brighter future for their children.” 

Adding further he said, “Moreover, recognition of a child’s plan in a platform such as this encourages children to believe in the power of dreaming big and having a plan for their future. This is something that is at the core of our brand strategy. To encourage more children to be able to think about their big plan, we also have rewards for 10,000 children over and above the 20 winners in this contest.”

Also to maximize the reach of the campaign, Aviva has partnered with select Croma stores in 7 cities and also with fast food chain, McDonalds. Elaborating on these partnerships for this campaign, he said, “The strategic tie-up with select Croma and McDonalds stores in select cities will help us reach out to our target audiences of young parents in a sharply focused manner. Considering the popularity of these retail chains, the tie up also help us maximize the reach of the contest and ensure that more students get the opportunity to participate in it.”

Children can also walk into select Croma stores in 7 cities (New Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai) and McDonalds stores in 4 cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Pune), fill the form and drop their entries. 

According to Piparaiya, Indian Life Insurance industry recorded a significant growth in the initial years and is now maturing into a consolidation phase. With more than 24 players and increased competition the quality of product offerings and customer service has improved dramatically. “We have witnessed innovations in terms of both products and distribution. This is the reason why most insurance players could register growth despite the regulatory pressures and a sluggish economy and reported profits,” he said.

He is of the opinion that, going ahead, reforms like 49% FDI in insurance can give industry the much needed boost in terms of capital and ensure that customers in India get access to world-class services through technology, which the foreign partners bring into India. “With increased insurance awareness and technological innovations in distribution, I believe that we are looking at a very interesting and bright future for the life insurance industry in India,” he avers. 

He goes on to say, “The online channel is expected to grow as one of the key distribution channels for insurers in the future. With internet penetration growing in the country, this channel is likely to grow exponentially with insurers offering a slew of products on the platform. Introduction of Open Architecture could also be a game changer for the industry. The potential of Bancassurance is estimated at 80,000 bank branches but barely 10% of bank account holders buy life insurance from this channel.” 

He believes that this will dramatically expand the range of options available to potential buyers of insurance products into geographies left untapped so far and thus encourage insurance penetration.  There’s also a shift seen in consumer attitudes where Indians are no longer culturally averse to buying pure protection plans, which is a significant development in terms of short term gains. Sustained product innovation and developing technology capabilities to serve products effectively through the digital medium will pave the way for accelerated growth.

Sharing Aviva’s Digital and Online strategies and also about how strong Aviva’s  presence is on the digital platform, Piparaiya said, “While conducting the insights study we realised that while education remains one of the key concerns of parents, protecting the child from all perspectives is becoming more significant. ‘Protection’ and the ‘Father and Child’ relationships are therefore emerging as themes that we are focusing on as a brand.  Aviva’s brand strategy, based on the father-child relationship, highlights the importance of a father’s role as a protector in his child’s life, whether financial, physical or emotional.”

Their social media programme too focuses on the father–child relationship with protection as the overriding theme. Their digital strategy is to build a community of financially aware young parents and to achieve this, they see a significant role for both entertaining content for parents as well as educating them around financial planning and Aviva’s products as key pillars.

On Facebook, which they launched in 2012, the brand has a strong community of over 4,60,000 fans. Inspite of being a relatively new medium for Aviva, the brand has managed to achieve the fastest organic growth rate on Twitter with more than 4000 followers in under a year.

“On Facebook, we focus primarily on reinforcing the importance of the father child relationship and this is done in a lighter vein, by making use of a lot of creatives and fun content. Twitter focuses mainly around tips on financial planning and investments and reinforcing brand messages in a fun way- through the help of engaging contests that have helped us tremendously from the brand consideration standpoint,” he explained.

In terms of Aviva’s key markets, he informs that over the past decade, Aviva has managed to build out a well rounded distribution network. In Bancassurance, they are one of the few insurers who can claim to have successfully worked across the spectrum of Indian banks - public sector, private sector, foreign, and co-operatives. “Our proprietary agency and direct force is amongst the most productive in the country and we are one of the leading players in the online space having sold more than 70,000 term policies through this medium in the past two years,” he added.  

“As would be expected, therefore, we are present and strong across the country. Our bank partners are national as is our proprietary network. Business mix is roughly equal across regions with Northern India contributing marginally higher,” believes Piparaiya.

As a marketer, he opined that the biggest challenge is to get the right brand messages out in a cluttered market and place the Aviva brand name among the right consideration set. Insurance is a highly regulated industry without much product differentiation and hence, it is important to keep innovating to ensure that your audience is connected to your brand and propositions. “Discussing life insurance is also not the most fun and appealing conversation to have with someone. Hence how do we make our messaging entertaining and educational is something that I contemplate a lot on,” he said in conclusion.

‘What’s your Big Plan’ was launched to give an opportunity to young parents to fulfill their child’s aspirations. The month long campaign will give 20 children a chance to win scholarships worth Rs 20,000 each from Aviva’s brand ambassador Sachin Tendulkar and play cricket with him. To participate, students have to log on to www.avivaindia.com, share their big plan in life and how their parents are supporting them to realise this dream. In addition to this grand prize, 10,000 children will receive educational DVD’s from Aviva.


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