Sanjay Tripathy
Senior Executive Vice President – Marketing, Products & Direct Channels
HDFC Life

Sanjay Tripathy joined HDFC Life in 2004 and has been responsible for Direct Sales Channels, Marketing Strategy, Brand Planning, Advertising, Communication & Media, Customer Insights, New Product Development, Product Life Cycle Management, Online and Digital Strategy, E-Commerce, Customer Analytics and Corporate Communication. He started his career with GCMMF Ltd. in 1992. Since then he has worked with various reputed organizations like Frito-Lay (PepsiCo), Mattel and Reliance Infocomm before moving on to his current role at HDFC Life. A management graduate from IRMA, he is a Board Member at Media Research Users Council (MRUC), an Advisory Board member at DMAi (Direct Marketing Association – India) and a member of the Awareness Subcommittee of the Life Insurance Council.

What is the opportunity and challenge that you see for HDFC Life in festival marketing? 

Festivals are a time for family bonding and are typically marked by purchase of gifts for near and dear ones. Over years festive marketing by consumer brands has created a category of customers who seek festive deals and buy only when there are discount offers. However, for us at HDFC Life, festivals are not the peak time to resort to marketing as purchase decisions are not based on discounts. Festivals are too happy an occasion to think about life insurance, financial planning or investments by individuals. However, they do help us to set the ground positive for such financial purchase decisions after the celebrations are over. For us, the opportunity lies in reminding people to take care of their loved ones and to secure their future thereby making the role of our brand more relevant in their lives.

How have you been leveraging customer insights into bettering brand experience?

Understanding customers is crucial for successful delivery of any brand strategy. Market Research and Analytics are an integral part of organization in today’s age.  In 2011, HDFC Life launched Life Freedom Index study in collaboration with Value Notes. The objective was to understand levels of financial independence and security among four key consumer segments-Young Aspirants, Urban Women, Chief Wage Earner and Wisdom Investors. The study gave us significant insight into the state of mind of our consumers and their needs and aspirations. We have intensively used these insights to create better products and communication and hence deliver a better overall brand experience.

Besides consumer research, we also have a well-equipped Analytics function which helps us analyze behavioral information to understand the mind-set and needs of our customers and generate predictive models that tell us about their financial purchase patterns.

We have seen that in HDFC Life’s TVCs there is an attempt to have sensitive portrayal of women like a family with two daughters or daughter saving for parents’ trip, what has been the thought behind it?

It’s ironical that women, being such a critical part of our socio-economic set-up are considered undeserving when it comes to life insurance.  Add to that the fact that women are playing a more active role when it comes to managing family finances than ever before, HDFC Life has consciously embarked on an attempt to serve women as a consumer segment for purchase of life insurance products.

We launched a new product, HDFC Life Smart Woman Plan last year and it was supported by a full-fledged communication campaign. The product has recently been awarded Product of the Year in the Life Insurance category. The response to the product and communication has been very encouraging, which clearly indicates that Indians are looking forward to stepping up their game when it comes to financial planning.  We will continue to put in focused efforts for this segment to educate and provide innovative customized products for Indian women.

Customer centricity is an important aspect for this sector, what are few loopholes where oft the players are going wrong?

As a sector, there is too much focus on quantity of business rather than quality of business. Also, the industry tends to fuel the consumer’s desire to treat life insurance as a short-term/returns oriented product, which backfires when expectations are not met.

To address these problems, we have concentrated on a product portfolio which is heavier on long-term needs. We also continuously work on educating our consumers to buy life insurance for the right reasons and the right expectations. We are investing heavily in post-sales consumer education as well to ensure they made the purchase with full knowledge and also drive persistency during the entire premium paying term.

This interview first appeared in Marketing Booster magazine

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