We are striving to get businesses back to normal pre-COVID levels: Ravi Santhanam

HDFC Bank is one of India’s largest private sector banks providing a wide range of financial products to its customers since its incorporation. As of June 30, 2020, the Bank had 5,326 branches and 14,996 ATMs/ Cash Deposit & Withdrawal Machines (CDMs) across 2,825 cities. It has been a front runner in the digital banking space and has leveraged digital to the maximum to be closely engaged with their customers.

Also read: How multi-platform engagement strategy is helping Nippon Paint have an edge this IPL season

The resounding success of the first edition has prompted HDFC Bank to launch ‘Festive Treats’ its annual financial services dhamaka once again. Customers can avail of special deals on all banking products from loans to bank accounts, with over 1,000+ offers from leading players and over 2,000 hyper local offers through tie-ups with local merchants across semi-urban and rural locations. In light of the unprecedented situation due to COVID-19, all deals and offers this year can also be availed of digitally from the safety customers’ homes, in addition to over the counter at branches, partner stores and dealerships. The Bank has also tied up with retail brands to offer discounts, cashbacks and extra reward points on both in-store and on-line purchases. Online majors such as Amazon, TataCliq, Myntra, Pepper Fry, Swiggy and Grofers will offer special deals during this time. Leading retail and consumer brands like Lifestyle, Bata, Monte Carlo, Vijay Sales, Kohinoor, GRT, ORRA are a few big names that will offer up to between 5% and 15% cashback on various products and services.

Adgully spoke to Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer, HDFC Bank, to know more about the Festive Treats campaign and how the bank plans to cash in on the festive mood and spirit this year.

Festivity has brought some kind of cheer and positive sentiments. With every financial brand trying to woo customers with various offers during the festive season, the clutter levels are high. How do you plan to stand out and get traction for your Festive Treats promotional campaign?

While the pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us, green shoots are very visible and we are clearly seeing businesses on a growth trajectory. Cricket is a religion in India and IPL is the biggest festival in cricket. Fortunately, IPL has also come during the festive season this year. Hence, the logical decision for us to make was to associate with a tournament that has a festive feel to it – IPL to break through the clutter and stand out. Breaking the clutter also depends on the value proposition and the messaging. Our value proposition is, Festive Treats is not only about offers, but also about providing customers the ability to fund their purchases – making it a unique and complete value proposition. The key communication proposition is “Now All is Possible”, establishing that the customers need not hold back any longer, they need to be positive and start getting back to living life normally while ensuring adequate safety.

What’s the key objective that you have defined for this festival offer? How do you plan to execute your promotional ideas and ensure that it reaches all your branches offline and digitally how you plan to inform your various customers?

Our primary objective is to drive positivity, consumption and help get the economy back on growth trajectory. We are striving to get businesses back to normal pre-COVID levels. We are aware that consumer behaviour and media consumption habits have changed. The consumer is spending more time on digital devices as well as on television. In some markets, consumers are also visiting physical stores as well and we see this in terms of the card swipe data trends that we see in our portfolio. So, our plans are to leverage the TV and digital medium in a big way and the offline/ on-ground mediums in a selective way with adequate safety precautions so that we reach out with our key offers to our customers. We have invested in the latest technology platforms, AI/ ML (artificial intelligence/ machine learning) to ensure that we can sharply define customer cohorts, identify propensity and communicate the right offer to the right customers through digital media.

The festive offer that you have planned will run across all your key product categories. Which are the categories that will gain traction to avail this offer? Any particular category that you are focusing on to promote the festive offer?

Festive Treats will be a complete offer across all product categories and also across all our loans offerings to enable that every wish that a customer has this festive season is fulfilled.

We expect mobiles, durables, electronics to continue to do well. Since it is the festive season, we expect apparels and dining-in to also do well. Auto loans will also grow at the lower end of the spectrum, since consumers are looking for a safer commute and hence, will use the festive season as a leverage to make their purchases. Consumer durable loans saw the highest jump in the recent months and the EMI business has clocked higher than pre-COVID. This is due to the work from home scenario and also managing home minus the ecosystem that existed prior to COVID. We believe that the customers are wanting to conserve cash and willing to avail of EMI to make purchases.

Tier 2 and 3 markets had shown early resilience and bounced back faster. We expect Tier 1 and metro markets to pick up further in the coming festive season.

People have been careful about spending during the pandemic. With layoffs, salary cuts and no bonuses, do you still see that people will go shopping and purchase wildly this year?

Consumers have been holding back on their key purchases and are largely spending on essentials. However, in the past few months we have seen increased consumption across categories, more so across purchases critical for work from home, work for home and safe commute requirements. The idea is to infuse positivity and get back to normal lives; of course, with the necessary safety measures. We believe Festive Treats will do that.

Have you created any special campaign to promote Festival Treats? What will be the duration of the campaign? Will you be leveraging IPL to reach a sizable audience?

Yes. We are planning a Festive Treats campaign across TV, OTT, Digital and on-ground branding for a period of 1 month. We are planning to leverage IPL through TV as well as OTT platforms – Star Sports and HotStar – to reach a sizeable audience and create an impact. We will also be leveraging digital to reach out to specific target segments.

Digitally, you have always been ahead of the race. Will you explore something new in the digital space to intensely engage with your audience during the promotional period? How do you plan to monitor your digital performance and measure your ROI?

We have been ahead of the curve on leveraging digital platforms and the latest AI/ ML technology to deliver personalised campaigns. We will be leveraging the strengths of our digital partners to create highly innovative and engaging communication initiatives. We will also leverage the Adobe Analytics platform to track and measure results at an individual creative and customer segment level and make real-time changes to drive better results.


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