Max Life’s Aalok Bhan: Champion of the ‘customer backwards’ approach
Max Life’s Aalok Bhan: Champion of the ‘customer backwards’ approach

In close to three decades of marketing experience across life insurance, banking and education, what are some of the real-life experiences from which you have picked up marketing insights or the idea for campaigns?

In the last 30 years of my career, the customer has been the biggest source of inspiration to my work. I truly believe that in order to make any campaign or offering relevant and sustainable, it is important to cultivate a ‘customer backwards’ approach wherein one can differentiate by identifying customers’ insights, and then finding what unique reasons can be offered to them in a cluttered marketplace. If your thought process and starting point are rightly focused on the customer, everything else from strategy to sales, will follow. At Max Life Insurance, we ensure that every initiative is customer backwards, with singular focus on providing them with value propositions that solve their problems; without expecting it all to translate to sales. As a result of this thinking, we’ve been able to keep our customers positively engaged during these changing times, driving meaningful conversations, and sustaining long term brand loyalty.

What have been the high points of your eight-year journey at Max Life Insurance and what have been the challenges?

Life insurance is still a largely ‘push’ segment. The challenge,therefore, is how to position the brand such that it creates value for the customers and helps life insurance become a ‘pull’ category. Another challenge is that, life insurance as a category is anchored in the ‘fear factor of death’ that is not the most appealing of conversations. Max Life has managed to overcome that barrier and transition to a ‘positive emotive’ narrative with #YouAreTheDifference. This encouraged the viewer to embrace his or her real value to be a key factor in determining the financial future of loved ones when buying life insurance. That has been the biggest highlight.

Tell us about the brand’s recent initiatives under the ‘Do More with Life’ wellness strategy such as launch of the app Max Fit and the #The21DayDifference challenge. How do you plan to take it forward?

Our ‘Max Fit’ wellness programme encourages customers to take action and improve their personal health, while incentivizing them with premium rewards for staying the course. Aligned to our brand philosophy of #YouAreTheDifference in the lives of your loved ones, the app provides people exciting opportunities to work towards a healthier lifestyle and realize that health is their biggest asset.Through #The21DayDifference challenge, effected in the initial days of the lockdown, we engaged our customers through 21 challenges which included simple tasks to help keep them and their families physically, mentally and emotionally active.

Our annual family run - ‘Max Life Family Run’- encourages families to spend time together and instills the habit of running, walking and staying active. We believe persistency in any fitness regime is imperative, just as it is in life insurance. Fitness enthusiast and actor Mandira Bedi joined our initiative as the event ambassador to encourage people to understand the importance of persistently saying ‘yes’ to healthy life choices. This resulted in over 4,600 participants and was positively received by our customers.

Through our second consecutive partnership with Team Royal Challengers Bangalore, we aimed to reach our millennial audienceand help them understand the importance of being financially healthy. With the narrative, we established that in the game of life, it is imperative to gear up well by calculating risks and similar to cricketers, we too must play with #ProtectionFrontFootPe.

What do you look forward to personally and professionally?

On a personal front, my larger agenda is to find happiness in everything I pursue. On the professional front, I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me, be it the end consumer, my colleague, my peers or my organization. By creating positive impact, I wish to leave behind a legacy that inspires the next generation of leaders after me.

Tell us about Aalok Bhan, the person, beyond the realm of business. What defines your personality?

Family is my source of happiness, my peace of mind. Outside the office world, I switch off to spend time at home and be around the ones I love. I am moulded by my inquisitive, curious and impatient nature which has always pushed me to keep learning. I believe in the principal of questioning every idea until I have the answer. The curiousness also translates into my professional development – during this pandemic, I enrolled for multiple classes to expand my horizon. Digital marketing is one of the interesting courses I have undertaken.The last few months taught all of us to become a student once again and to constantly keep learning and unlearning. I do this during a two-hour ‘me’ time – to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, I have taken on the initiative to educate myself about nutrition and fitness. I spend two hours every day after dinner on long walks, where I delve into various podcasts and audio books as I work towards my 15,000 steps goal. Another not-so-known passion of mine is singing, which I have pursued over the last few months in small ways.

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