Aishwarya Ramesh and Deepashree Bannerjee

"The challenge is driving penetration of digital payments": Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

The brand's new campaign highlights the app's cashback, deals and vouchers - hygiene propositions in the segment.

Cashbacks, discounts, vouchers... these are some of the ways that payment services draw customers in. The incentives have to be creative since there are quite a few competitors in the field. At a time like this, building consumer loyalty becomes tricky as more often than not, they are loyal to the benefits, not to the brand.

"The challenge is driving penetration of digital payments": Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

Freecharge wants to 'reward' users for mundane tasks

Others in this segment have been actively fighting to address this by using emotional appeal or speaking about the reliability and safety of their particular brands, but Freecharge went in another direction. Earlier this week, Freecharge released a commercial that speaks about 'rewarding' a customer for mundane tasks. Sangram Singh, CEO of Freecharge, tells us that this is about the app rewarding a customer's actions through deals, vouchers and cashback and not just the latter. "There are multiple ways of engaging with the consumer and this campaign aims to appreciate the 'return of effort' for mundane tasks," he explains.

"The challenge is driving penetration of digital payments": Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

Sangram Singh

The campaign makes references to being underappreciated at work and highlights the offers that Freecharge has in store for consumers. But Singh tells us that it's about much more, "This is not an offer-led communication but an attempt at leveraging the potent life moments of the audience - the context is 'not being appreciated in the workplace'. This is about addressing an inherent expectation of feeling appreciated. The 'Use of incentives' approach is aligned with a choice the consumer makes while making payments/recharges."

About how he's building customer loyalty in this highly competitive segment, he outlines that loyalty or preference, rather, is built by staying relevant and driving engagement by offering products and solutions basis the preferences of the consumer. "The way we aim to achieve it is by establishing a better connect with the consumer and providing a better experience. That's the motivator," Singh states.

He also points out that although digital payments is a growing segment, there are still a vast number of transactions, across multiple categories like bill and merchant payments and recharges, that are yet to migrate from cash to digital. "Overall, there is still plenty of headroom for growth and it's reflected in the new customers that we see coming to the platform for digital transactions. The challenge is less around there being multiple players and more around driving greater penetration of digital payments," he says.

Digital is pervasive, so there are some challenges when it comes to marketing in this space. "Our media strategy is to create effective communication that is most relevant in terms of reaching the target audience and accordingly deploying the same," Singh says.

"The digital revolution has exposed consumers to a whole lot of information and knowledge of products and services and their opinions are no longer based on traditional channels. Connecting with the target audience and staying relevant by continuously focussing and improvising on various aspects of brand elements like consumer satisfaction and quality of products and services, is what drives brand sustenance," he says, emphasising on the fact that consumer connect needs to be very strong.

In an effort to analyse the creative aspects of the ad and how well it works, we had some industry members weigh in...

Navin Kansal, Chief Creative Officer, 21N78E Creative Labs

"The challenge is driving penetration of digital payments": Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

Navin Kansal

"The challenge is driving penetration of digital payments": Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

Karthik Krishnan

Cashback, by its very nature, works better than discounts when it comes to creating tractions for e-commerce platforms and thereby, some loyalty. Consumers will remain a fickle lot, but they are savvy enough to hunt for the best deals. It is a viable option for e-tailers since it increases the proclivity of consumers to indulge in impulse buys and experiment as well.

Casting Natha in the ad is an interesting choice. It will definitely aid in creating recall for Freecharge especially for those who have seen his memorable character in Peepli LIVE.

Karthik Krishnan, Creative Director, The Digital Street

Cashbacks and deals are a fairly common phenomenon and most service providers today treat them as currency to get their audiences to buy in. With that context, Freecharge's portrayal of their offering is simple and well-executed... with no frills. Their observation of 'under-appreciation for mundane tasks that should be rewarded' is a smart positioning of the app's cashbacks and super deals features. This fits into the prevalent value-seeking nature of the audience. And #AppNahiAppreciation sums it up quite nicely.

That said, loyalty in this category is very difficult to attain. Such motivators are one way to get that. Consumers, who opt in based on such communication, won't stick around unless they see consistent value in doing so - in services/discounts/deals. It's a pull mechanism driven by the audience's need to always get a better deal. I don't see how they could fool them into opting in or sticking around.

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