Namah Chawla

"Want to deliver gold loan at doorstep faster than pizza": Rupeek marketing head

A chat with Shalabh Atray, senior vice president, marketing and digital, Rupeek, on ‘gold tech company’ Rupeek's maiden advertising outing and the category it plays in.

Unlike other fintech players, the big opportunity for Rupeek, a ‘gold tech company’, lies in monetising the significant amount of gold that Indian households own. The precious metal is considered to be a dead asset, unless it is utilised well.

Shalabh Atray, senior vice president, marketing and digital, Rupeek, says, “The amount of household gold that is sitting idle in India and is completely unutilised is worth about $2 trillion, which is more than the combined GDP of countries like Germany, Switzerland and the UK.”

He believes that this unutilised asset is not good for the Indian economy as well as individuals. The reason for this is that once the emotional barriers associated with gold are taken away, it is as good as any other financial asset and can be used to meet one’s financial needs.

Atray is a digital-first marketer, with experience in transforming businesses, brands and teams across multiple companies, geographies and categories. He has worked with brands like Hindustan Unilever (HUL), and Lakme and Kraft Heinz in Australia. Now, he is leading digital marketing and brand building efforts for Rupeek.

Shalabh Atray, Rupeek
Shalabh Atray, Rupeek

As per a recent World Gold Council report, the organised gold loan market received a significant push as a result of the COVID pandemic and the current economic downturn. The market is expected to grow to over Rs 4 lakh crore this fiscal year (2021-22). It is expected to grow at an annual rate of 15.7 per cent to Rs 4.6 lakh crore in FY22, up from Rs 3.4 lakh crore in FY20, the report said. It added that the demand for gold loans, both through banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), has grown in response to the economic impact of the pandemic.

With a mission to transform the gold loan category digitally, Rupeek aims to look into gold monetisation, which is not something new and has existed for quite some time.

In India, securing loan against women’s jewellery is often viewed as the last resort for families. They go for this option only when they run out of all other financial assets.

Rupeek’s maiden national campaign features ‘The Family Man’ couple, actors Manoj Bajpayee and Priyamani. It attempts to ‘inspire’ Indians to take pride in using ‘their’ gold to access credit in a safe, personal and tension-free manner.

The campaign not only addresses the pain points of the consumers, but also highlights how the brand aims to provide relief, both emotionally and functionally. It attempts to assure people that it is a tech-driven credit lending experience, and not one driven by anxiety.

Speaking to afaqs!, Atray shares the insight behind this campaign. “We wanted to understand human pain and then create something around it. In our research, the insight that really struck us is that having gold ornaments in your house is a matter of joy, as it is something that is passed down from one generation to another.”

“When it comes to taking loans against gold, you are made to feel small about it. The environment, process and hassles involved make you feel small about yourself. The reality is that it is your gold jewellery and whatever you do with it, is your decision.”

"The environment, process and hassles involved make you feel small about yourself. The reality is that it is your gold jewellery and whatever you do with it, is your decision."
Shalabh Atray, Rupeek

Rupeek wanted to highlight both the emotional and functional aspects of getting credit in exchange for gold jewellery in the ad film. While the emotional insight was around how the society makes a borrower feel, the functional aspect deals with the hassles involved in securing credit against gold in an unorganised and traditional set up.

Atray informs that the primary target audience of the campaign are the consumers who have decided to take a gold loan, and are on the verge of entering the category.

“These consumers are not loyal to a specific brand, but are looking for one that will provide them the right experience, in terms of lowest interest rates, loan to value (LTV) and a frictionless process.”

Rupeek is targeting ‘NTGL’ (new to gold loan) consumers and also the infrequent users in the category. The reason for this is that they will be open to trying new offerings.

Addressing the psychological barriers that Indians face when it comes to seeking loans in exchange for gold, Atray mentions that Rupeek wants to give the power back to the consumers, as the gold they own is ‘their’ priced asset.

“Since we are a new-age company, we want to assure them that we will make the entire process of securing the loan, frictionless. We want to be the company that can execute and deliver a gold loan offering at your doorstep in less than 30 minutes (similar to pizza delivery).”

It is a known fact that the festive season impacts all businesses across categories. It is a time when consumer spending tends to increase. Atray points out, “Though the festive season impacts the category positively, there is not too much seasonality associated with it. The need for taking credit is not driven by festivities, as it is a high ticket (size) item.”

Speaking about the competition, he says, “We are mindful of other players in the market. But for this particular category, the biggest competition is the mind of the consumer. We want them to open their mind to a first of its kind tech offering in this category. The narrative of this category will not change because of the competition, but by how it is perceived by the consumers.”

"The biggest competition for gold loan category is the mind of the consumer"
Shalabh Atray, Rupeek

Rupeek’s marketing strategy is based on discipline and disruption. Atray mentions that the latest TVC is just the first of many. A lot of content, featuring both Bajpayee and Priyamani, will be rolled out soon. The brand is also looking to work with influencers who are apt for this category, as well as OTT platforms.

The media mix will focus on a combination of paid, owned and earned media. Given that the brand is doing a national campaign for the first time, the role of paid media is to provide scale and reach. Creating awareness is also essential.

“Here comes the role of digital, print, OOH and TV. We are also building a community on our social media handles, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Earned media will help us to put out interesting stories that we are creating around our offering. This will spark a conversation,” Atray signs off.

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