HSBC, despite having a legacy typically British, has gone the full mile in trying to become Indian. 4Ps B&M meets the Marketing Head, Maitri Kuma, to get insights
What does Hong Kong have to do with Shanghai in a bank’s name? Belonging to a group set up in 1865 by a Scotsman, HSBC fortunately kept up with the centuries and got into some of the best markets on the Commonwealth platter – including India. Maitri Kumar, Head of Marketing, HSBC India tells Deepak Ranjan Patra, what role did marketing play in their India success story, and what is it that makes the brand HSBC click with the Indian consumers.

How important a role has marketing and branding strategy played in the success story of HSBC in India?
Our marketing and branding strategy played a key role not only in India but across all countries we are present in. The HSBC brand was rated as the most valuable financial brand in the world with a valuation of $28.47 billion by Brand Finance’s Top 500 Global Financial Brands, 2010 survey. However, one of its most telling achievements was the strength it displayed when the banking industry was assaulted by the global meltdown in 2008. Much of the credit for this goes to HSBC’s strong brand identity encapsulated in its famous slogan ‘The world’s local bank’.

But how has that slogan helped you in pushing up HSBC as a brand in India?
As I said, brand HSBC showed immense strength when other brands in the banking arena, across the globe, faced a real hard time to keep up their image during the global meltdown in 2008. And we believe our slogan, ‘The world’s local bank,’ played a very critical role in the same. HSBC’s global expertise coupled with local relevance finds expression in that tagline. This has been the driving force behind HSBC’s communication worldwide. Backed by strong consumer insights and validations, the products and services from HSBC address the concerns, wants and requirements of all its customers. Also, by communication of the bank’s products and services like Global Premier, Cards, Alliances, Commercial Banking et al., we offered the consumer a ‘reason to believe’ in what we said at a larger brand level.

So what would you consider the key drivers for brand HSBC in India?
In India, one of the key drivers of the HSBC brand imagery is the fact that it ‘advises on basis of its international network of expertise’. This attribute among many others has gone a long way in giving HSBC the standing it has in India today, that of one of the leading financial services brands.
Of late, innovation and product differentiation has become key strategies in the financial services sector. How do you rate these services in your bank?
The past couple of years have been action-packed for HSBC. To start off, since HSBC prides itself in continuously innovating, it took its earlier position to a logical conclusion in 2008: ‘People value things differently. That’s why we offer different banking solutions.’ It is this insight that helps HSBC understand and appreciate the values that shape financial needs. With extensive advertising across airports and other media like outdoor, TV et al., the brand reinforces its commitment to offering customised banking solutions to its customers.


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