Aishwarya Ramesh

BFSI brands target millennials with swanky new ads

The millennials – it is the TG that every marketer is running after and the one segment they believe will be the growth driver in years to come. We didn’t think much of it until we recently spotted two ads from the BFSI sector.

What struck us is the way hardcore banking offerings like home loans and retirement savings now don a swanky, stylish new avatar. Everyone wants to chase the girl/guy on the go, the one who is hell bent on following their passion – the millennial. For the uninitiated, millennials are those who were born between 1981 and 1996. While the first half of this TG may be just starting their careers, the second half, those who are older than 28 or 30, are now finding themselves at the centre of marketers’ attention.

The question really is – ‘Are millennials going to be growth drivers in the next five years? Especially, in the BFSI sector?’ Exploring advertising and marketing in the BFSI sector led us to a conversation with Rajesh Lalwani, managing director, Scenario Consulting. He would prefer to call this category ‘urban youth’ and pointed out that it was more difficult to get them into a saving/investment habit.

“20 years ago, adults had their lives clearly laid out for them – college, job, marriage, buy a car, invest in a home, save for children and so on… We’re currently seeing what’s called the ‘Friday’ generation. Every day is a Friday according to them. In that sense, the BFSI sector is no longer dealing with just the traditional ‘Monday’ generation,” Lalwani explains.

Rajesh Lalwani
Rajesh Lalwani

We asked him about the family’s involvement in finances and he believes that most millennials are urban nomads who were born in one city and now work in another. “They are the complete decision makers in their own single household. Since they live away most of the time, their family has no idea about the finances.”

Referring to the Bajaj Allianz TVC, he points out that even the concept of retirement has to be rearticulated as freedom to do whatever you want. “Marketers need to step up, not just in terms of tech-led offerings, but they also need to change the way millennials see money. Right now, they see money as something that is earned or spent, not saved or invested,” he explains to us.

Lalwani calls millennials the ‘consumption class’. “They play an important role in their day-to-day urban living. Car sales are down, but the business of Ola and Uber is booming. Housing rates are down, but co-living and co-working are the new rage. Everyone is trying to do things differently to cater to the millennial,” he says.

Shedding light on the HDFC TVC, he tells us how “it used to be aspirational to own a house, but I don’t think this generation will buy into that. The question is, how do you position the brand in a way that it meets millennials’ aspirations?”

To understand this trend better, we caught up with Mythili Chandrasekar, a brand communications enthusiast and a former planner with JWT. She believes it is logical that companies in the BFSI sector are attempting to target millennials – since there is one part of the millennials' group that is above the age of 30. So, why wouldn't a BFSI company target them?“This isn’t the first time. Many years ago, HDFC targeted 25-year-olds with their ads. Another campaign that ran last year – ‘Mutual Funds Sahi Hai’ was very young in its tonality. The country is becoming younger and large sections of the population are in that age group, so I'm not at all surprised,” says Chandrasekar.

She also draws attention to the fact that it makes sense for companies in the BFSI sector to target those born between 1984 and 1987 since they are in their 30’s now. “When you become a double income household, is when people start looking into EMIs and home loans. The age group between 27-35 is the time you think of marriage, family planning, investments, and balancing your savings with your expenditure,” she mentions.

Mythili Chandrasekar
Mythili Chandrasekar

It is a waste for a BFSI company to sell a long-term product to somebody who is already older, she believes. "A 30-year-old will be interested in products that can give him returns in the next 30 years. In any category, if you're focussing on older people, assuming they're going to be your TG... you're going to miss out on growth from the new set of people who are going to be your consumers,” says Chandrasekar.

She emphasises the importance of financial management for the younger lot of the millennial TG. “The less sure you are of the future; the more is your need for financial planning. If you’re planning to leave your job or be a freelancer, you need to be sure how to manage your finances,” she signs off.

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