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Insurance a push product in India, says IndiaFirst Life's Rushabh Gandhi

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MUMBAI: Life insurance ads with depressing thoughts about the future and forcing you to invest to avoid gloomy situations like an accident, health failure, etc aren’t the most alluring to consumers. Indeed, just a fraction of the country ends up taking the plan and quite a few of them stop paying the premium in the first three years itself.

But this outlook is exactly what the country's youngest life insurance player wants to change in its latest advertisement. IndiaFirst Life Insurance launched a one-of-its-kind advertising campaign last week titled - Because Life is Full of Certainties. Launched in 2010 by the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, IndiaFirst Life Insurance is present in over 1000 cities across India. It is a joint venture between Bank of Baroda with 44 per cent stake, Andhra Bank with 30 per cent stake and UK’s leading risk, wealth and investment brand Legal & General group with 26 per cent stake in it.

Created and conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather, the campaign seeks to appeal to customers’ own reasoning by advocating prudence in planning for events or life goals that have a greater likelihood of happening such as getting married, having children, fulfilling responsibilities towards them and retiring. This is a step away from the generally promoted outlook to insurance that hinges on a person’s fear of the unknown. IndiaFirst Life Insurance director of sales and marketing Rushabh Gandhi mentions that the company wanted to differentiate itself from the existing norms of advertising and didn’t want too much of emotional jargon or overdose.

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Although Gandhi did not disclose the allocated budget for the said campaign, he revealed that this is the biggest brand campaign IndiaFirst has undertaken in the last three to four years. The campaign will run till the end of this financial year (31 March 2018) and if things go as planned, it will be pushed to the next financial year as well.

The company will shell out 55 per cent of the total advertising budget on the out of home medium followed by regional print (15 per cent), radio (15 per cent), social and digital (15 per cent). With most of the business coming from Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank, the firm will be setting up hoardings around the banks’ regional and zonal offices.

The insurance player wants to steer away from television for the campaign and will not be investing at all on the medium. Gandhi says, “We thought: why to spend big bucks on TV when you can get the same result in terms of eyeballs with lower spends.” The company is also not looking at investing in in-cinema advertising where insurance and financial products form a bulk of the promotions.

The insurance industry of India consists of 57 insurance companies of which 24 are in the life insurance business and 33 are non-life insurers. The number of lives covered under health insurance policies during 2015-16 was 36 crore which is approximately 30 per cent of India's total population. While Gandhi does admit that insurance in India is not where it should have been, he is optimistic about its growth in the years to come. It requires a mind change, positive publicity and awareness for it to bloom. He says that insurance is currently a push product and not a pull one in India. “Insurance in India is growing at a fast pace although it had its blips sometime back. There is good headroom for players but we need to address the issue jointly as an industry,” he adds. The company reported a net profit of Rs 35 crore in 2016-17 and is aiming for a net profit of over Rs 50 crore in the current financial year.

The future looks promising for the life insurance industry with several changes in the regulatory framework which will lead to further changes in the way the industry conducts its business and engages with its customers. With a growing middle class, young insurable population and increasing awareness of the need for protection and retirement planning, the industry is set to see some good times ahead and as Gandhi believes, “Life is not a series of accidents to happen as most of the things in life are certain, so might as well get a cover for them.”

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