Don’t stay within the traditional confines of male-focussed messaging: Abhishek Gupta, CMO, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance

The male audience has almost had a monopoly in brand communication writes Gupta.


As an absolute movie buff, I am quite picky about the movies I watch. After several recommendations, I watched the movie Dear Zindagi, and as promised the movie did not disappoint. Women-led movies often offer a new perspective and this movie was no different. It opened my eyes to an often-overlooked fact. 

As Alia Bhatt’s Kaira navigates her mental health issues, at some point during the movie she is serenaded by Ali Zafar’s Rumi, to the song Tu hi hai. Humming along the song, I found myself struck by the most uncommon reference - Jiske liye mujhko jeete hi jaana hai, Bima karana hai, Tu hi toh nahi?

As an insurance marketer, I couldn’t help but feel proud that the word bima had found reference in a mainstream Bollywood song. Even more so, it made me realise how ignored women typically are when it comes to BFSI sector, notably insurance. The man is assumed to be the buyer and the woman is not necessarily a target customer at all. 

A 2017 Kantar study revealed that financial services brands spent $240.4 million to advertise their products and services in male-skewed magazines, 13 times more than the $16.7 million spent on female-oriented ones. Since years now, the male audience has almost had a monopoly in brand communication. And, when brands do try to target women, the communication is men-focused with aggressive undertones and does not pertain to the female audience. 

Specific to the insurance industry, women have always been perceived as the secondary buyer. But the data suggests otherwise. As per the recent annual report of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, women bought 36% of the 28.6 million policies sold in FY19, amounting to Rs. 36,500 crs of first year premium. In fact, a larger number of women are also embracing the advisory role. Of the total 21.95 lakhs agents in the life insurance industry, over 6.03 lakhs (27.5%) are women, as on March 2019.

Years ago, most working women were mere signatories to investment products chosen by their fathers or husbands. But now, more than half of them make their own financial decisions. A 2016 Nielsen study shows that 52% women make their investment decisions independently compared to 37% three years before. 

So it begs the questions – even when an increasing number of women are buying and selling financial products, why marketers focusing only on men? 

There is a huge opportunity available for brands which, if used effectively, can set them apart from their peers. So what should marketers do?

Products tailored to women’s needs

Most products available in the market like women’s savings account or credit cards are merely an extension of existing products with some superficial add-ons. It’s time to look beyond these ornamental changes and develop solutions that truly offer value to women’s needs.

Nurture women advisors

Our data shows that female sales managers are more productive and remain with the organisation longer. Women are much more adept at building trust with the customer and therefore manage their needs effectively. Also, there is an argument to be made in support of the fact that women advisors can potentially lead to more women buyers. 

So, any financial brand should look at elevating the roles of women financial advisors in the eyes of their customers, their peers, and their own self. This can be effectively managed through proper communication.

Know your target audience

Don’t limit your approach based on your assumptions. Look at what the data suggests. Marketers need to spend more time and resources to understand women, their spending and investing habits. Understanding women as individuals will help develop the overall business practices catering to women and will cascade into the marketing approach too. Never underestimate the power of insights to build empathy, authenticity and trust among your target audience.

Learn from other industries

Several industries effectively engage with women like fashion, wellness, beauty, health among others. There is a wealth of knowledge and learning in the way these industries are communicating with their target audience. It can provide a customised approach to keeping this demographic engaged. 

Be Consistent

Be it a business or advertising, consistency is the key to success. Stay on course and don’t change your strategy once you have identified the right one. Every new approach will take some time to deliver the desired outcome. So, don’t give in to the urge to go back to the traditional ways. The dividends will be higher if you stay on the right route. 

So, the next time you are hoping for an unlimited impact, look for a relevant yet unique approach. Don’t stay within the traditional confines of male-focussed messaging and look for your own Dear Zindagi moment. Because, why should boys have all the fun? 

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