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There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to marketing: Sapna Desai

As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world, the costs associated with testing and treatment for the virus are weighing on patients, who are underinsured or uninsured. It is important to be prepared in advance by insuring oneself and one’s family with a comprehensive health insurance policy to cover expenses incurred on treatments arising out of such viral infections. The growing number of COVID-19 positive cases in India has also led to increase in penetration and awareness levels.

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Manipal Cigna has taken bold actions to make it easier and more affordable for customers to access the care they need. Besides, they also expanded their digital capabilities to help customers with COVID-19 by providing real-time, personalised support. The pandemic tested everyone’s mettle in every way as they innovated to provide uninterrupted services to their customers. Services had to become contactless and available at the touch of a phone screen. To help rapidly assist the customers, the company created a differentiated and digital-first health care experience to provide supportive services around their unique wants and needs. By ensuring everything is available at the touch of a screen, Manipal Cigna as an organisation is walking with the times, ready to tackle challenges and deliver to its customers the best of services.

In conversation with Adgully, Sapna Desai, Head - Marketing and Online Sales, Manipal Cigna Health Insurance, speaks at length about various challenges and solutions that marketers have come out with in the New Normal and much more.

What is the marketing strategy adopted by Manipal Cigna Health Insurance in these times? And how did you recalibrate your strategy for the lockdown?

Today, we live in an age of rising medical costs, with a greater tendency of falling prey to ailments or viral infections anytime, anywhere. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the escalating healthcare costs, our first and foremost business strategy is to drive more affordable, predictable and simple healthcare for different segments. Listening to our customers and providing products and services that meet their health protection needs and expectations is a significant part of our growth strategy. However, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to marketing.

Keeping in line with our customer-first philosophy, we aspire to create an outside-in marketing organisation that drives customer value to fully enable profitable business growth. We do this by building on Manipal Cigna’s brand story across consumer segments; strengthening customer access, experience and direct sales; and through increased media, customer and employee engagement strategy and tactics.

COVID-29-induced lockdown has indeed amplified the need for easy access to products and services and information. Most insurance customers are now comfortable using online channels and are interacting more and more in the digital realm. Thus, we are using digital platforms to increase overall brand awareness and improve consumer experience by simplifying the buying process and making it easier for consumers to select the right product.

How are you tackling the challenges in the new normal?

In the times of crisis, our top priority is to do all we can to protect the health and well-being of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities. These are unusual times, and I believe times of crisis bring both challenges and opportunities. One thing that challenged us was how do we as an organisation provide the reassurance and safety to all those we serve and also re-imagine our business operations to secure growth calibrated for risk, cost, quality. Communication was the key across stakeholders and the situation requires us to deal with this differently, forcing us to re-imagine in order to build high efficiencies across services and to quickly navigate the challenges.

The pandemic has taught us how we can be faced with uncertainties and require innovative solutions. At Manipal Cigna, we are not content to simply watch from the sidelines – our purpose calls for us to be part of the solution. Thus, our motto is to ensure our products and processes are constantly evolving to adapt to the needs and expectations of all those we serve.

How is your role as CMO undergoing a major transformation amid the pandemic and an increasingly digital-first focus?

As technology advances rapidly, customer attitudes change, and unpredictable trends abound, marketing too is evolving at breakneck speed. This means that my role as a CMO has evolved to cater to the ever-evolving requirements of organisations. We need to go beyond overseeing and supervising brand-building and marketing activities and focus on business growth and delivering a top-notch customer experience.

The modern marketing landscape is becoming increasingly complex, and to stay relevant, we must cater to both the customer and the marketing requirements of the business consistently. 

Personalisation and real-time customer engagements are the two cornerstones of exceptional customer experiences in today’s world, enabled by technology. Creative storytelling, not entirely a new marketing concept, is becoming increasingly relevant as consumers are losing trust in brands or becoming warier and instead expect more authenticity.

Being a true marketer, to address the solutions in this virtual world, we have tried to use data and analytics-fueled approach to help shape the brand’s strategy.

In an omnichannel world, how has the content role of CMOs been intensified?

One of the critical responsibilities of any marketer is to gauge consumer sentiment and ensure any insensitive or overly promotional, off-putting communication is avoided. For instance, sale emailers during the initial months of the pandemic would have been irrelevant and insensitive at a time of complete chaos and panic.

Being a responsible and empathetic brand, we ensured that during these difficult times, we adopted a more relevant, interesting, engaging, and educational content which was more consumer-focused and that can reach the consumer on a more emotional level rather than just talking about a product directly.

What are the new ideas for creating effective branding in a volatile world?

It is important to communicate to the target audience through the right communication channel. Therefore, the medium of choice of all our branding has become digital. Social media is an integral part of getting our messages to the right audience, so we place a lot of importance on the correct targeting.

Since the consumers have adopted digital services and are placing more importance on experiences and status updates, thereby altering the entire paradigm of marketing. At Manipal Cigna, we are continually evolving to be able to cater to this generation.

Given the constant flux in consumer behaviour, especially in pandemic times, what is your go-to strategy to understand your customers’ unique wants and needs?

At Manipal Cigna, our goal is to ensure that we partner closely with our customers in times of both illness and wellness equally. With social distancing and lockdowns, today people are confined to their homes. Thus, to make quality healthcare more accessible to our customers, we have launched ‘WeCare’, a holistic infectious disease management program to safeguard our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Manipal Cigna’s WeCare is a complimentary program designed to help protect customers’ health from common diseases and also ensure that customers have access to virtual consultation with a general practitioner or specialist doctor depending on the severity of their symptoms, so they do not need to visit a clinic in person, thus avoiding lengthy waiting times and reducing the chances of infection at a crowded clinic.

Our consumer insight driven campaign, such as ‘Baat Kijiye’ (Keep Checking In), have helped us to bring brand purpose to life and has encouraged and inspired people to play an active role in supporting society. Our ‘Baat Kijiye’ campaign encourages everyone to take time out of their day to start checking in with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues or someone who might be alone or vulnerable due to this extraordinary experience presented by COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact our physical, financial as well as our mental health in ways we might not even realise.

(Edited by Shanta Saikia)


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