Here’s how Muthoot Finance is bringing about a perception change around gold loans with its marketing initiat – Business Insider India

  • Muthoot Finance is one of the largest gold loan NBFC in India and it has been using its marketing strategies effectively to make the brand a household name.
  • Abhinav Iyer, GM, Marketing & Strategy, Muthoot Finance tells us all the brand has been doing to not only grow its business but also to grow the category as a whole.

It is no secret that Indians love gold. In fact, gold accounts for a large part of most Indian family’s wealth. While for years, securing loans against jewellery was looked at as a last resort, the last few years, especially the pandemic, has brought about an attitudinal shift in Indian consumers.

Gold loans have been on a consistent rise over the last few years and this growth is coming from both micro enterprises and individuals. The pandemic hit many businesses and while things have been slowly moving towards normalcy, a lot of sectors still remain impacted, and people are still trying to find the balance. In such a scenario, gold loan has come up as both a convenient as well as a quick option to get cash.

Over the years, there has been a shift in perception when it comes to taking a loan out on gold jewellery and one brand that has been trying to help the segment grow by trying to fasten this change is Muthoot Finance. Over the last few years, the brand has consistently stayed in the public consciousness with its marketing strategies.

Amitabh Bachchan

has been a face of the brand for four years now. It has also been the Principal Team Partner for Chennai Super Kings, having turned it into a trusted, household name.

We recently caught up with

Abhinav Iyer

, GM, Marketing & Strategy, Muthoot Finance to understand how the pandemic impacted the company’s business and the role the brand has been playing in not only educating consumers about the sector but also helping the sector grow.


Muthoot Finance’s growth story

While the pandemic was not kind to many sectors and businesses, Muthoot Finance was able to sustain its growth, Iyer tells us. The consolidated AUM has grown by nearly 80% in the last three financial years from 2017-18 to 2020-21. Its consolidated net profit has grown by 114% during the same period. In other words, it has more than doubled during the said period.

“We have grown considerably when it comes to our book size in the last few years. This year too, we are looking at growing our book size by 15%. We have made similar growth in terms of percentages when it comes to our profitability too. We serve over 2.5 lakh customers every day through our network of over 5000 branches. Contrary to common perception that we are a South-based brand, we are today a national brand, and grown consistently over the last decade,” shared Iyer.

The brand has also been on an expansion mode. Over the last 2-3 years, it has added over 150 branches across the country.

“If stock prices are a testament, we have made a healthy northward stride. From every stretch of imagination, we have grown, in terms of our physical branch presence, our customer base and our profitability over the last two, three years,” added Iyer. And he gives a big credit to the brand’s marketing strategies for this growth.

Creating a winning marketing strategy

It is often said that during times of crises, marketing budgets are usually the first to get slashed. We saw a lot of brands that stopped communicating with its consumers during the pandemic. However, Muthoot Finance is one brand that does not believe in this. In fact, it believes in staying in the public consciousness, staying constantly engaged. It has a half-yearly marketing strategy where it comes up with a high decibel campaign every six months, a strategy that has worked well for it.

The brand recently launched its campaign ‘Hathi pe bharosa karoge toh pakka jeetoge’, featuring Amitabh Bachchan. The brand also recently launched the second season of its radio campaign called Muthoot Finance Sunheri Soch.

At a time when more and more brands are steadily increasing their spends on Digital, while decreasing spends on traditional mediums, Muthoot Finance is one brand that has been consistently using mediums like Print, Radio and Outdoor.

Speaking about why its latest radio campaign, Iyer said, “Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching’ and we also believe that radio has always been seen as a credible and authentic medium of communication, hence we chose it as our primary medium of communication to reach out to our target audience and new customers. We also wanted to have a female voice this season and bring freshness to the table, hence this year we are extremely delighted to partner with

Madhuri Dixit

for Season 2. We have extensively researched and customized our series to be launched via radio alongside strong amplification across all prominent digital channels. We recorded a significant increase in our new customer acquisition and queries post the launch of Season 1. Thus, we did not hold back ourselves in investing again in radio and celebrating the art of

storytelling

.”

On why the brand continues to invest on traditional mediums while also investing on newer mediums like Digital, Iyer added, “We are a national brand with around 5440 branches across India. More than 70% of our branches are in semi-urban and rural areas. We have served nearly 70 crore customer (including repeat customers) since our inception. So from all those parameters, we are a large, spread-out, national brand. So its important that some of these mass mediums are always there as part of our media mix. It would never be possible for us to do away with any of the mass mediums because the reach from mass media is critical for us. Meanwhile, digital is also a very important cog in the wheel. In the last three years, our digital and our IT teams have been working tirelessly to ensure the technological upgradation of our products and services. We launched our Gold Loan at home offering during the pandemic. That was a huge value-add from a technology perspective. There was a time you had to visit a branch to repay your loan interest. Today, you can do that using any digital payment platform, our chatbot or our WhatsApp business account. So today there is no longer a need for people to visit the branch physically. We are also investing substantially on digital marketing. Atleast 10% of our marketing budget is invested into digital marketing.” He also added that TV still makes for the largest chunk, between 40-45% of its marketing budgets.

On what it got right when it comes to its marketing strategy, Iyer said it was a combination of a few things. “In the last few years, we have been on a marketing transformation journey. Firstly, partnering with Mr Bachchan has helped us cut across geographies, gender and age groups. Secondly, we partnered with Chennai Super Kings in 2018 when they were just coming back after a short break.

MS Dhoni

is also someone who enjoys almost the same stature that Mr Bachchan does in Bollywood. He’s a trustworthy, dependable and balanced individual. So our partnership with CSK helped us in the Tamil Nadu market where we have about 900-950 branches. We have also been using transit medium very effectively and The Greater Kailash metro station and the Nandanam station in Chennai have our branding and it has completely transformed the stations. We also came up with a unique initiative during the Kumbh mela when we created huge gold lockers to help devotees keep their valuables at a safe place. This campaign helped us win numerous awards. Lastly, over the years, we have created a culture of launching half-yearly campaigns, new communications to bring about an attitudinal change in the minds of people. We try to be present throughout the years on all major ATL and BTL mediums. I believe these strategies have helped us grow as we are also trying to grow the category.”

Owing to its presence in smaller towns and cities, the brand also focuses a lot on regional communications. The brand puts out its communications in 11 languages to ensure its reach is far and wide.

Future areas of focus

In what the scope for the segment is in the future, Iyer said, “Overall there are around 25,000 tonnes of gold (household jewellery) in the country and less than 5% of it is monetized. So there’s a huge potential for growth, both for us and the industry as a whole. So the focus would be on getting new customers to try and opt for gold loans. Its also a very simple product, you only pay interest for the number of days for which you have availed the loan. There is a whole lot of customer benefits which can help people benefit from the product. So our primary objective, even from a marketing perspective would be to grow the category significantly and help the category prosper by itself. We will also constantly keep working on bringing about an attitudinal change in people through our marketing and communications,” concluded Iyer.