In your own words, how do you describe a `hot’ brand?

A Hot brand is actually the one, which can stay cool and connected to the target audience. A brand that manages to stay relevant stays Hot while others fade away. To be Hot, a brand also needs to build conversations around what it stands for and consumers believe in. To make marketing relevant to core audience, a brand needs to understand the likes, dislikes and diverse lifestyles of the consumers and connect with them on an emotional level. HDFC Life’s greatest strength lies in the emotional connect that we share with our customers; their desire to live with Pride – Sar Utha Ke Jiyo.

What can be few steps taken by brand owners to keep their brand stay-top-of-mind?

A brand can stay top-of-the-mind by being connected to the lives of customers; being a part of their diverse lifestyles and predicting what is required from it, in the times to come. First step is building awareness followed by self-identification with the brand and lastly building affinity for the brand. Being brand loyal is a very strong term. The key is to consistently meet or exceed their expectations at every brand-customer interaction.

Is rural only a state of mind? What can marketers do to benefit from the new, inclusive India?

Rural India is not what we perceive it to be anymore. As we all know, the tremendously growing part, “Bharat”, has got immense potential in terms of untapped areas for most marketers. There has been a surge in the purchasing power of rural consumers, especially in certain pockets. Even in the insurance sector, the ATS in the tier-2 and 3 cities is relatively higher as opposed to the usual perception. What is required for impactful marketing is a relevant insight and medium of communication for these customers; assuming distribution is adequate for the brand.

New Rules of Engagement: Changing Expectations of Brand+Customer Interactions, your view?

The scale of customer interactions with the brands has increased considerably. With the multi-channel experience available these days, consumers want to feel special in every brand interaction. Also, I think social media has changed the customer expectations to a great extent. It enables brands to engage directly with consumers, thus, allowing them to build relationships with them. Brands create these social conversations and become a part of consumer’s lives. On the other hand, customers also now expect and are accustomed to faster response times from the brands.

Marketing hasn’t changed in a 100 years, but the tools have. What do marketers need to do to survive the next 10 years?

The most important thing that marketers need to do to survive the next 10 or even say 30-40 years is by continuing to understand their customers’ needs and staying relevant to them. For example, while no one can deny the increased penetration of smart phones, what are we as brands doing to acknowledge them as a primary screen to connect with our customers? I think tools will continue to change but as long as we keep the customer at the core of the business and what we do, we will survive as marketers.

Profile: Mr. Sanjay Tripathy is Senior Executive Vice President, Marketing, Product, Digital and E-Commerce, and member of the Executive management Committee at HDFC Life. His core responsibilities comprise Marketing and Product Strategy, Brand Planning, Advertising, Communication & Media, Customer Insights, Online and Digital Strategy, Customer Analytics, Corporate Communication & E-Commerce.

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 Communications (erstwhile Reliance Infocomm) before moving on to his current role at HDFC Life in 2004. Some of his major contributions include launching Dhara at GCMMF, setting up of Frito-Lay’s business in the East, building Mattel’s business in India. At Reliance Communications, he was instrumental in launching the Dhirubhai Ambani entrepreneur programme and the Reliance IndiaCall (international calling card) in USA, Canada and UK.


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