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Q] How will the Muthoot Pappachan Group realign its strategy to incorporate social distancing once the lockdown ends?

Our core product, Gold Loan involves physicality as it is about our customer's precious gold, that she has to bring to our branch to be assayed, pledged and then get the loan in a jiffy. Of course, we are strictly following all the Govt. guidelines and also ensuring health & safety of our employees. However, more importantly, we have also developed a unique, Industry-first Service, aptly named '24x7 Express Gold Loan'. A customer who has pledged his Gold can also register for this unique Service. Now, if he has taken a loan which is less than the value of her Gold and/or she has made some re-payments, there's a headroom that's gets created. So now, with a simple SMS, that too from a basic feature phone, she can get top-up loan which is transferred to her bank account, for her to withdraw from an ATM or use the same through her online wallets / UPI, etc. So no need to come to the branch. Repayments of course, can be made through multiple online modes, like Muthoot Blue Mobile App, ePay and PyaTM, without any need to come to a branch.

Q] What are the different ways in which your creative agency is supporting you in this phase?

We are working with our agencies as partners. One of the key initiatives has been the agency helping us re-focus on our ‘purpose’, which is helping change the life of a common man through his financial well-being. The purpose is of course at the core of everything, from overall business, to products, to services, to customer experience to communications.

Q] What percentage of your total advertising spends are happening on Digital right now vis-a-vis TV and other mainstream platforms? To what extent have you reduced ad spends on other mediums and why?

We signed up with the respected & celebrated Vidya Balan two years ago and went on to TV to build the association and the brand imagery. Difficult to put a finger on a number, but, as we emerge out of the lockdown, the focus on Digital is going to go up multiple times. Our ATL spends however, are very limited, as our marketing ethos is more about personal engagement. All our 3600 branches have locally inspired plan for customer-engagement activities to have one-to-one conversation with the customers. Now in the current situation, we would still engage with the customers, one to one, but on phone and online. Our key focus, given our customer profile is FB & Google. Now, as we speak, Tik-Tok is emerging as a strong force.

Q] How are your digital agencies rising up to the challenge, anything beyond the usual?

Too early to say anything. It’s a period of transition. Means, customers are currently moving in various directions, in terms of their media behaviour. Digital is gaining, but Digital itself is a massive space. We would like firmer trends to emerge & evolve for us to leverage each other's strengths & ideas.

Q] Once the pandemic is behind us, would you say the trend of spending much more on Digital will stay... or will Muthoot Blue go back to spending on mainstream platforms like TV, Print in the same ratio as earlier?

Certain behavioural changes happened during Demonetization. Similarly, perhaps even wider changes at a Behavioural & Cultural level will happen in the aftermath of the Pandemic. Going by the direction in which things are moving, it seems like Digital will finally arrive, when the curtains are down on the pandemic.

Q] Once lockdown is lifted, will you be cautious about spending on ads or will you go all out?

We serve the people at the lower strata of the socio-economic pyramid. Like I said, our preferred mode has always been personal engagement. Also, as always, we would like costs to be minimized and to pass on the benefits of lower costs to our customers

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Tags : Neeta Nair Lockdown Muthoot Pappachan Sanjeev Shukla