Demonetisation: A marketing opportunity for digital payment companies

Although the government’s recent move to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes have left a lot of people scrambling for cash, digital payments have been seen an explosion in promotional activity. Brands across sectors have increased their marketing spends by 50-70% to promote digital transactions. E-wallet brands have capitalised on the situation to acquire new consumers and have increased their digital marketing by a staggering 120%. Retail brands, on the other hand, have reduced their digital communications by 20-30% owing to most online orders being made with the cash-on-delivery option. Banking firms have increased their marketing communication by as much as 200-300% to keep people informed about their services and build brand loyalty. Mobile push notifications and SMS have emerged as the most used digital marketing tools by brands in the BFSI and e-wallet segments to engage with their target audience post demonetisation.

Opportunities aplenty for e-wallet brands

For e-wallet brands, demonetisation has created an ocean of opportunities to acquire new consumers, increase merchant tie-ups and engage effectively with their existing consumers. The idea of the ‘country going digital’, as in some western countries, has been aggressively promoted. Brands in this segment typically work in a two-dimensional models – on one end are the customers and on the other end are the merchants. People are now more open to experimenting with e-wallet transactions and many merchants are also increasingly accepting the digital e-wallet model for their products and services. Today, people do not mind using their e-wallets for the payment of mobile bills/recharge, utility bills, cab bookings, movie tickets, etc. Moreover, since a lot of merchants don’t have card readers for debit/credit transactions, they have begun to accept e-wallets as a mode of payment, thanks to the ease of money transfer that just requires details to be fed into a mobile app.

Banking firms build trust and loyalty

Banking firms have been leveraging marketing technology tools to automate their communication workflow to handle the continuous stream of communication that they need to send to their consumers. Following the demonetisation rule, the government had set a withdrawal limit of Rs. 4500 in ATMs, which was later reduced to Rs. 4000 and then to Rs. 2000. These updates had to be shared with consumers instantaneously. BFSI companies also had to update their consumers that banks would be operational on weekends. Since these were crucial pieces of communication, these messages had to reach consumers on time. So marketers in this sector increased their digital spends and marketing communication in order to keep their target consumers well-informed.

Retail brands reduce promotions

Cash-on-delivery has been the dominant trend in the e-commerce sector. However, these brands had to temporarily discontinue their promotions post demonetisation. Instead, they are promoting digital payment offers on cards and net banking even for orders that are in the pipeline, in order to draw their consumers to the platform. Offline retail has also seen a reduction in digital communication. The businesses in this sector have been actively collaborating with e-wallet companies in order to offer digital payment solutions to consumers. SMS and email have been the most used marketing tools for e-commerce and retail brands.

The marketing channel of brands across sectors

There has been an increase in mobile communication by e-wallet brands through digital marketing tools. Brands in this segment have turned to app notifications and SMS as mediums to effectively engage with their consumers. Brands are also moving towards a multichannel approach where they communicate through a combination of social media channels, email, SMS and push notifications. Another technique for digital marketing uses the segmentation approach. Brands, especially in the e-wallet sector, use marketing technology to send promotional offers and details based on the consumer’s age and preferences. For example, if a consumer is in the age bracket of 18-30 years, information about discount offers in coffee shops or on movie tickets might be more useful for them.

SMS has been the most used channel of communication by BFSI brands during demonetisation. Marketers have introduced regional language SMS as a marketing tool, to tap the Tier II and Tier III markets and have transcribed brand messages in as many as 11 regional languages post demonetisation. Another marketing tool used by the BFSI sector to better engage with consumers from rural markets, has been the automated voice IVR platform. Banks have introduced toll-free numbers for consumers to find out their account balance and details about their last three transactions. These facilities have been aggressively promoted through digital channels like SMS across the country, and email which is more popular in Tier I markets.

The future of digital transactions

The shift towards ‘going digital’ is likely to be in the best, long-term interest of the country. Going cashless and adopting the digital medium will provide a platform for brands to determine which channel will provide them with the maximum responses from consumers. Also, with digital payments, every detail of the transaction is accounted for, which is exactly what the government wants to achieve with demonetisation. A digitally evolved economy will also help brands manage their digital spends in the future by tracking trends digitally. While carrying physical cash was a risky affair earlier, embracing digital mediums can help individuals be assured about their monetary security. It is, therefore, a win-win situation for both brands and consumers.

Dec, 03, 2016

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