April - June 2015
Issue No. 5

Banking giant SBI wins over Indian millennials

Situational Analysis

Prior to 2014, despite being India’s largest and oldest commercial bank with 200-year-old history, State Bank of India (SBI) had been suffering from a lack of youth connect. An in-house analysis that revealed SBI was not the first choice among the next-gen population served as a wake-up call for the bank. For an institution that prides itself for being a ‘Banker to every Indian’, the indifference of the youth was not in keeping with the bank’s dominant status. The bank realised it was critical to correct this anomaly since its future business growth depended on young borrowers. People who are below 35 years not only comprise 65% of the nation’s population, but they also represent the largest segment for consumer loans.

Business Objective
Attract next-gen customers, with a special focus on increasing the customer base in consumer loan segments such as home and automobile loans.

PR Objective

  • howcase SBI’s credentials as a modern 21th century bank with a strong youth connect among the target group
  • • Highlight SBI’s leadership position in mobile banking, home loans and auto loans

Target Group Analysis:
The consultancy conducted a research among the youth that revealed that this target group was unaware about SBI’s leadership position in mobile banking, home loans and auto loans.

Budget: Retainer fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 was Rs 12 million (USD 192,182)

Strategy & Planning:
  • Our strategy focused on increasing engagement with prospective youth customers across traditional media and leading social media platforms. Towards this, we decided to leverage SBI’s adoption of new technology initiatives in banking
  • Since SBI was present across 16,100 branch locations in India, we planned to specifically focus on regional media that covered 75% of India’s population.
  • Promote the bank’s first woman Chairman, Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, as a youth icon and as an ambassador of change for the next generation in the media
Creativity and originality
During the launch of SBI’s digital branches, sbiINTOUCH, the consultancy arranged for six simultaneous video conferences across India. While Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Ms. Bhattacharya addressed the media in New Delhi, live video uplink was available across Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkata. All these SBI branches that had doubled as press conference venues featured interactive LCDs that simplified all banking transactions. It wasn’t only the assembled media who took note of SBI’s tech prowess, even the Indian Finance Minister endorsed that the bank “has led the way in digital innovation in the Indian banking industry.”

For SBI’s CSR programme ‘Youth for India’ that provides India’s best young minds (fresh engineers and MBAs from category-A institutes) the opportunity to serve rural communities, we highlighted how the bank has created a ‘3-way winning’ programme for itself and its stakeholders. While the people of India’s hinterland derived benefits from their association with young professionals, the participants themselves got an invaluable exposure about the struggles and challenges in rural life through this programme. Last but not the least, SBI—as the prime facilitator—also gained by connecting with young professionals and the rural youth.

Execution and tactics:
  • Issued 74 press releases, and conducted a series of interviews and media visits to showcase several digital banking initiatives
  • Leveraged the presence of dignitaries such as the Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor to generate big format media coverage
  • Planned the launch and promotion of 385 SBI tech learning centres across India, generating awareness about its customer relation programme for a better understanding of the bank’s offerings
  • Organised 80 exclusive face-to-face interactions for Ms. Bhattacharya with top editors of leading national and international media
  • Increased social media engagement with interactive sessions such as quiz competitions, sharing information, regular discussions and informative videos in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Evaluation of success/ measurement:

  • Leading magazines such as Forbes Asia, Forbes India, Fortune India and Business Today featured SBI chairman Ms. Bhattacharya in their cover-stories. We generated 10 magazine cover stories and over 92 big format interviews across national and regional media – all highlighting SBI’s emergence as a technologically-driven and customer savvy institution.
  • SBI received over 13,880 media clips across all target national media generating over 2.6 billion impressions. Of these, 4,290 articles were generated in Hindi and 7 other regional languages.
  • There were over 1,724 articles in the print media on the bank’s technology initiatives. The Indian media described sbiINTOUCH as the ‘next generation banking initiative’.
  • Separately, there were over 3,604 articles about the bank’s home and auto loan offerings
  • As a result of our sustained public relations campaign, Ms. Bhattacharya received numerous accolades during the year. These include: Fortune India’s Most Powerful Woman Business Leader, Forbes Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen, Bloomberg Market’s 50 Most Influential, and Outstanding Woman Business of the Year by CNBCTV18. She was invited to be a part of Indian Prime Minister’s delegation to Australia and also at the World Economic Forum in Davos
  • SBI saw a huge rise in the number of followers across social media. On Facebook, the number of likes increased to an impressive 443,938 from 41,710 in the earlier year. Making its debut, the bank managed to get 22,815 followers on Twitter and 4,385 subscribers on YouTube during the year. These numbers confirm SBI’s new-found popularity among youth.

Business Outcome:

  • During January-December 2014, SBI’s customer base increased to 256.8 million (22% Y-on-Y rise). The number of young customers, within the age bracket of 21-35 years, increased to 82.5 million (35% Y-on-Y rise), establishing SBI as a next-gen banking leader
  • SBI became the market leader in mobile banking with a market share of 48% in such transactions. Its customer base in this category grew by 40% during the year to 3.9 million.
  • The total footfalls at the six sbiINTOUCH outlets touched 1,43,269 since its inception in July, 2014
  • ‘Youth for India’ CSR fellowship programme resulted in 6,500 applications from youth associated with leading corporations and premier academic institutions

Client endorsement:
Mr. Mahendra Kumar Rekhi, DGM Public Relations, SBI, said: The PR campaign was a remarkable research-driven and focused effort which augmented our business decisions. It helped us to connect with the youth, increase our customer base and establish our self as a new-age banking leader. The result of the PR campaign was also achieved on a limited budget which is outstanding.

(This campaign recently won a Silver and a Bronze under the ‘Media Relations Campaign of the Year’ and ‘South Asia PR Campaign of the Year’, respectively, at the PRWeek awards in Hong Kong.)