What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Men – Ajay Kakar and Manish Kalra

11 Sep,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Ajay Kakar and Manish Kalra

 

 

Change is in the air, but similarity prevails too

 

By Ajay Kakar

 

Historically, we have noticed that financial decisions have been predominantly been taken by men and in recent years when we talk of women increasing in numbers as professionals and financial independence, not much has changed. In absolute terms, the number of women taking independent financial decisions may have grown, but in percentage terms, there is no growth. And that absolute number, even if it’s small, the financial institutions are eager to catch them young and can expect loyalty for a life time. I do not want to make any sweeping statements.

 

But, the reality and dichotomy is that even in the case of working women where they have blossomed as professionals, money is largely being handled by either the husband or being advised by the father. In professional terms too, if there are distributors or if when women are seeking financial advice, these professionals or agents too are largely men. We can say that if men were just handling their money 10 years ago, they are handling the women’s money too today.

 

When it comes to decisions like buying a property or a car, or investing in gold, it’s a family decision, unlike 10 years ago. Women have become initiators, and contributors, but ultimately when it comes to casting vote, it’s with the men. So men are involving women too in key financial decisions. They are more inclusive now.

 

 

An insight into the Indian traveller’s mind…

 

By Manish Kalra

 

Over the years, the Indian traveller has undergone a slow but sure metamorphosis. India has the largest youth population compared to anywhere in the world. With disposable income and the desire to explore newer destinations, increasing number of young Indians have taken to travel. They want to explore the world and are willing to pay for leisure services. Technology too has played a great role in how Indians choose to see the world.

 

It has not only changed the way travel is distributed but has also affected the way travellers experience it. Increased internet penetration and affordable mobile computing have made technology a key aspect of consumer’s buying behavior. Online travel companies need to realise that though their business is online, there are a significant number of customers who are offline.

 

Hence, the next phase of growth will come from an audience who currently consumes media offline. Optimizing our marketing mix in this scenario is fairly challenging and a very dynamic process. We keep a very close watch on our performance (RoI) across channels and are very agile with our moves. We follow the consumer in his day to day activity across mediums – TV, print, online (FB, Twitter, Youtube, blogs, etc). Thus, we plan our media mix keeping consumer behavior in mind. We also do specific advertising for people who access social media on mobile.

 

 

But either way, it is an influencer-driven category. The influencer could be the immediate surroundings or a financial advisor distributor who is largely a male for both men and women. Men today, like 10 years ago, believe in financial security, so savings instruments like savings account, fixed deposits, recurring deposits, postal savings are still popular as they were then and are still considered to be safe bets. I am talking mass and not just about the metro man. When it comes to mass, the person is still a simpleton. Just look at it this way. When should one invest in a share market or mutual fund – when it is going up or going down? It should be when it’s down so that they can book profits when it’s up.

 

But the reality for the Indian male still is that they start pulling out money when the market is falling. They do not want to erode their principal amount. Having said that, the other reality is equally harsh whereby there is only 44 per cent penetration of banks and just two per cent penetration of shares. So a large population doesn’t even know that there is a mutual fund. Mutual fund for them still is equity linked. They don’t know the differences that there are diversified funds, balanced funds and debt funds, and that the last would give better returns than traditional saving accounts and is largely safe.

 

 

We have seen that traditional mediums like TV are very effective in expanding the overall online travel market. This enhances a brand’s reach in tier II and III cities, and influence the people there to transact online. While we witness more and more Indian travellers getting comfortable with researching and booking online, there are still a lot of customers who are apprehensive about online payments. A recent survey by MakeMyTrip reveals that payment/ data security continues to be the No.1 concern-area for a majority of Indian travellers when booking a hotel online.

 

We offer secure payment options to make the travel-buying experience convenient and safe, but as the survey shows, more needs to be done to educate the traveller on how to determine that their online transaction is being conducted in a safe and secure ecosystem. Digital advertising is real-time and actionable. However, brand-building is still something that is established through offline campaigns. Even with digital natives, the consumption of content has moved across different screens today.

 

So we experiment a lot with how we serve content to our customer based on their media consumption habits and travel requirements. Ensuring consistency of service-experience for the ever-growing number of travellers who book through MakeMyTrip is another area that we are focused on. We strongly believe that prospects for the online travel industry in India are growing each day. With newer technologies and platforms being introduced rapidly, the need of the hour is to build products and offer services that make the travelresearching and buying process more engaging, seamless and convenient.

 

– This article was written by Manish Kalra while he was Head Marketing, Makemytrip.com.

 

 

 

Tomorrow: Friday, September 12:  Women – Lloyd Mathias and Sudhir Nair

 

 

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