UTI AMC gets dabbawalas as salesmen

By Chhavi Tyagi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : February 09, 2009
After the success of the initiative for their new fund in December, UTI AMC has hired the dabbawalas for another financial product

What if your regular dabbawala came up to you and started talking about a financial product? Whether with surprise, amusement or shock, chances are that you would hear him out. And that is all that UTI AMC was looking for.

In December 2008, the financial services company hired 5,000-odd dabbawalas in Mumbai from Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust to create awareness and generate leads for their new Wealth Builder Fund. The results of the initiative saw them repeating the campaign in January for another product, Children Premium Plan.


Bhattacharya, chief marketing officer, UTI AMC, says, "We were coming out with a new product and wanted to get it across to our prospective investors without the message getting diluted. In economic times as these, we were also looking for a cost-effective plan to do that. We chose to approach dabbawalas as they are well aligned with our brand values - they not only have a high trust value amongst their customers, but superb logistics skills, as they deal with so many customers on a daily basis. They have access to decision makers of the families and, last but not least, customers take them seriously, rather than just another courier guy or some random ad."

The dabbawalas, in UTI branded T-shirts and caps, went about their usual rounds of picking up the lunch boxes from homes and delivering them to the people in office. However, on those four-five days, they also carried application forms of the fund and other marketing material, such as brochures. UTI also trained these dabbawalas to go a step ahead and give a succinct introduction of the product and urge their customers to call up the financial consultants for more information.

Though it is a trifle strange that the dabbawalas, who are largely an uneducated lot, were to talk about a financial product, Bhattacharya states that they did not think the initiative would earn ridicule from the target group. He explains, "We were very clear that we wanted them to pitch our products and not just hand the form over. These people have an amazing amount of trust value with their customers. We knew these dabbawalas would get far more of consumers' time for us than a mass media ad. We not only built on that credibility, but also gained a great amount of brand visibility by making them wear branded T-shirts and caps."

Going by the results, it seems that UTI assessed the situation well. The activity enabled them to touch 500,000 office goers, which meant access to the same number of households. Thus, in total, it was able to contact about 1,000,000 people. Though he declined to divulge the number of lead conversions, Bhattacharya says that they got an astounding three to four times more of what they usually get after a mass media campaign.

After these two trysts, UTI is excited about doing on-ground activities in other cities as well. "We are going forward with innovative ways to reach out to our target group and will be exploring many channels to do that. We understand that the country is very diverse and we will be focusing on regional strategies to market our product. Also, print and outdoor media are very expensive, and with our ad budgets coming down, it has become almost a necessity to market products in a cost-effective manner. An on-ground activity not only provides that, but also cuts down on a lot of communication wastage," explains Bhattacharya.

First Published : February 09, 2009

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