Rohan Padhye, Vice President, Marketing – Axis Mutual Fund tells us how the brand is trying to minimize the misgivings in people’s minds associated with investing their hard earned money through its latest campaign.
Q] What was the insight behind the latest campaign of Axis Mutual Fund? Over the last few years, mutual funds have been lapped up by millions of Indians, given the inherent advantages associated with this investment class. It is a dichotomous world where mutual fund investments offer growth potential, yet are perceived to be risky. The key insight gathered after having conversations with all the stakeholders is that investors need assurance - not of high returns, but of care and concern for the hard-earned money that is invested. And with a responsible money manager by one’s side, the risk factor is minimized.
Q] What is your marketing mix and which medium is the focus of your ad spends? For the brand campaign which was brilliantly created by The Womb, we focused on Television for the sheer reach it provides, along with the impact it creates. We also selectively used the OOH medium in a couple of key markets to enhance visibility. Going forward, we will leverage Digital which we have been investing in for our investor education and product campaigns.
Q] Give us a rough estimate of your marketing spends. What percentage of it are you spending on this campaign? Roughly Rs 15 crores is what we will end up investing this year which includes spends on brand and product advertising. This also includes the budget for creating investor awareness. For this brand campaign, 50% spends were apportioned.
Q] In India, the asset base of mutual funds as a percentage of GDP is just 11%, while the world average is 62%. Why is there this big gap and as a responsible player in the industry what steps are you taking to bridge it? The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) is doing a stellar job in creating awareness and expanding the category in India, as well as globally. Under SEBI’s guidance, all the asset management companies came together to create a pool for investor education and the association has done a phenomenal job of creating not just awareness, but also building preference for mutual funds as an asset class. With the financialization of assets underway, we can expect the gap to narrow. We have already witnessed the surge in AuM (Assets under Management) of the mutual fund industry in comparison to the conventional investment options. While AMFI continues to do its bit, we at Axis AMC, have also taken efforts to spread awareness about different asset classes, long-term wealth creation and preservation basis different life goals, and awareness particularly about systematic investment plans (SIPs). Going forward, we plan to create a series of investor education communication on responsible investing as we have seen that many investors get influenced by market sentiments which ultimately leads to them taking suboptimal decisions with their money. As a responsible asset management firm, we believe in creating a mindset of responsible investing amongst investors. Our intermediaries will also play a very critical role in taking this message to investors.
Q] What are the strong markets for Axis Mutual Fund? Maharashtra and Gujarat in the West followed by Delhi, NCR and Rajasthan in the North, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the South, and West Bengal, Odisha and Assam in the East, would be our key markets.
Q] In India, even today a large chunk of savings are invested in physicals assets like land, homes, and perhaps gold…what is your strategy to counter this? In the last 3-4 years, the mutual fund category has witnessed stellar growth on the back of good performance of equity markets, as well as the new found confidence in consumers. People are gradually embracing financial assets more than physical assets. Indians have realized the need to diversify their investments. So while they continue embracing physical asset classes such as real estate and gold, there is a positive disposition towards equities as an asset class. At Axis AMC, we create awareness about different asset classes and highlight the importance of diversification and asset allocation. For a set of evolved audiences, we have also introduced alternate investment products which invest in real estate projects. This also is a reflection of the trend of moving from physical assets to financial assets. Our aim is therefore to offer a wide suite of investment products which appeal to different investor mindsets.
Q] What is the brand’s current market share in India? What is your target market share? We are one of the youngest asset management companies in India. With little over nine years of operations, we have grown rapidly and presently have about a 3.5% market share. This market share varies when you look at different sub-categories such as equity, fixed income, hybrid, ELSS, liquid, etc. Our aim is to increase the share in specific categories which we are pursuing market-wise and asset-class wise.
Q] Which is the biggest product in your portfolio and which product are you betting on going ahead? Axis AMC has been a category leader in ELSS (Equity Linked Saving Scheme). Our product commands a lion’s share in the overall ELSS category. Apart from this, we have many other products suited for different needs of consumers’ basis their risk profile, investment horizon, life goals, etc. We will continue consolidating our equity portfolio and also enhance traction in the hybrid and fixed income basket.
Q] There are 42 mutual fund houses managing assets to the tune of over Rs 23 lakh crore in India…. what is the USP of Axis Mutual Fund? We have just communicated our philosophy of being a responsible mutual fund. We are not just money managers, but also risk managers. With a robust risk management process, we handle investors’ money responsibly. This is our value proposition. Moreover, we are backed by a very strong mother brand in Axis which not just lends credibility, but also helps the MF brand with reach and visibility.
Q] What were the challenges for the brand in the market? And what opportunities do you see going forward? Challenges abound. There is stiff competition with more than 40 players competing for market share. Our category is largely influenced by the performance of equity markets and the challenge will be pronounced with markets showing signs of extreme volatility. Fintech is a challenge, as well as an opportunity, given that Digital is creating paradigm shifts in consumer expectations and behavior. Indians are underinvested and therein lies a huge untapped opportunity to increase the number of individuals to invest in mutual funds.
Q] Can you cite an interesting, memorable experience in your marketing journey? There have been many. The one I vividly remember was not a pleasant one to begin with, but which ended up being a memorable piece of work. There was a whacky idea which we took a punt with - we had a random guy (impersonating the Taxman) going about eating food from the plates of people in our office cafeteria. There were multiple cameras secretly mounted at different places in the cafeteria which were recording the moments without anyone knowing about it. Through the entire activity, we laughed our guts out seeing people reacting weirdly to the guy and a couple of them were almost about to slap the guy out of anger. Post the shoot, there was a lot of heartburn as people complained, and as a team we had to face the music from the higher ups. We then took time to stitch the footage and out came a memorable piece of communication which won many awards and accolades.