The Banking and Strategy Initiative

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Can Faster ATMs redeem Indian Banking | Advantage Brands

From highly woven storylines for Max New York Life Insurance, to the overarching philosophical muse in ING’s ‘paisa sirf paisa nahin hai’, Indian Financial Services customers have seen a highly variable range of service delivery and brand communications for Indian Banking. In that the suddenly functional campaigns of HDFC Bank that advertise the one button withdrawal, is a disruptive change of the desi variety. The other extreme is the HSBC OBC Canara Bank JV without a single advert because of pre launch post launch issues, and even they are doing more than 2000 Crores in Premium

This disruptive change may not redefine much for the market but may not turn away obdurate customers from the banks’ new business offerings. While ICICI Bank keeps losing one mini mandate each day after its last innovations in I-Direct and Direct Insurance and Mutual Funds, HDFC Bank has timed the innovation well to take up that space at the front of the bus reserved for the innovator we will follow.

The campaign lacks finesse and even the sadly monotonous ‘Traderacer’ campaign from ICICI bank may win one or two face-offs with HDFC Bank. If the ING Vysya campaign comes back, Aditya Puri and Keki Mistry are in fact as good as lost. But then, this ATM advert is not the only one HDFC Bank is doing. Their reputation is safe and even vibrant among shopkeepers and small business as they try ingenious ways to remain in local touch.

This campaign could do with some good WOM. Esp, as Cashcow.in tells us, we are also sitting on new Cashbacks at retailers, millions of new POS machines and online micro payments need a leg up. Mobile Banking is coming with RBI approval soon, and among Indian owned banks, ( not the other 75% FDI, the soul is Indian ;lol) with a rural reach to boot (small towns with money) HDFC Bank just has to pip ICICI Bank. Standard Life Insurance venture is also doing well in the market place, presumably cost control cutting out any flashy advertising. But having messed up the Credit Cards dream with false lists and unseen craters of human depth, they better man that counter and the call center desk responsibly.

As the local MF market also showed us, there is a lot of money out there that can come through and go back with a single good idea. India’s GDP could well-nigh triple with the amounts we have in the shadow economy. In parity terms we do double the size of US economy, but we don’t advertise that either.

However, HDFC Bank/HDFC as a brand are more wedded to the idea of Projects and POP promotions esp with pricing offers and tie-ins. That part may earn them first look customers, but the marketplace is competitive with other private sector players and they may need to move the focus to more brand facing advertising campaigns and even participation in Sport

Also, it is time HDFC adopts a regional strategy as is the wont of the teens ( 2010-19) . Also apart from JPM that is likely on top of such trend making innovation, any functional campaign would have to reach the high levels of the Citi and HSBC WOM , e.g. the contactless payments exercise floated by Citi India which has ten times the word of mouth and really good scaling up for the bank despite its global troubles.

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