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Speed to market will become a barometer of success: Ajay Kakar

Adgully is back with a new edition of its annual feature – TRENDING NOW – where we present the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of the pandemic period.

Over the next few weeks, Trending Now will bring insights from industry leaders on how their organisations are gearing up to seize the opportunities in 2022, break through the Covid disruptions and find growth and remain resilient.

In conversation with Adgully, Ajay Kakar, CMO, Aditya Birla Capital, speaks about the trends that are expected to dominate the FinTech sector in 2022, the challenges and new opportunities emerging in this sector in the year ahead, and more.

What are the trends that you expect to dominate in your sector in 2022?

Given the current situation, it appears like uncertainty will remain a way of life in the foreseeable future. Brands will have to keep a finger on the customers’ pulse – be it their felt or even unfelt (as yet) needs. It is certain that a ‘spray and pray’ approach will not help.

Brands will have to anticipate the customers’ needs and will have to offer relevance, simplicity, and comfort in these ever-changing times. Speed to market will become a barometer of success.

All brands across all industries and categories will now have to start designing and delivering “memorable experiences” for their customers, across the purchase and lifecycle. Even within a category like financial services, where per se the products cannot be touched, seen or experienced.

Most importantly, while anticipating the customers’ future needs, I believe that a brand must not place all its bets only on the digital world. The customer will want and will exercise a choice, as s/he wants it, when s/he wants it, across customer touch points.

Brands will realise that technology and digital is not an end, but an enabler.

At the end of the day, the customer will remain the king and the brand that not merely listens, but makes its customers feel heard for all their said and unsaid needs in the times like these will live to narrate the tale.

What are the challenges and new opportunities that you see emerging in the year ahead?

As they say, tough times are the true test of character, and in these times, it holds equally true for a brand.

While there will be a temptation to lay low and see how the uncertainty pans out, such times will help sift the men from the boys. He who sows during this time will reap the most. Now. And hereafter.

The pandemic acted as an eye-opener for brands as it made them realise that continuous evolution is the name of the game. Many customers ventured out of their comfort zone and discovered a digital or online connect with brands. The customers realised that they have the option of clicking and comparing. This results in the need for brands to not only be best in class among their category peers, but across players, across categories.

Brands have realised the importance of retaining existing customers, rather than only focusing on acquiring new customers. The need for simple, relevant and differentiated offerings and experiences will have to remain key with increased focus on hyper-personalised products, communications and experiences, for every customer.

What are the changes that have happened in this sector in the last two years? How strong will this sector’s recovery and growth be compared to the last two years as well as the pre-Covid period?

India is at the cusp of a health, wellness, and financial awareness revolution.

As an industry, I believe, that it dawned on us that our categories and products are not the needs of a customer. The customers’ need is to live a life that they desire. This, in turn, puts the responsibility on them to protect, finance and invest appropriately, to give life to their dreams. And money is a key enabler. So, it is not so much about life or health insurance or mutual funds as it is about ensuring one’s health and the financial health of one’s family. More so in the times of uncertainty.

The brands that use this time to invest in redefining themselves to become even more relevant will have a disproportionate advantage. The trend will be to hit the market with never before agility and speed, leverage big data, use AI for an omni-channel marketing approach to further create a robust customer relationship and boost loyalty.

Companies who will continue to stand by their customer with empathy and understanding, besides offering products one really needs, will be able to stand out.

COVID has raised awareness in the younger segment, who were earlier not interested, especially in a category like insurance. Brands will identify the opportunity to drive consideration and relevance for this newly inducted segment by talking to more and more millennials with an aim to catch them young. Digital will become a large component of all marketing plans for both the categories. And, all these elements will help the industry take bigger leaps.


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