The Indian Insurance Powerplay: Speaking with Ashish Mehrotra (CEO and MD at Max Bupa)


By Unicast Entertainment


For the 10th episode of Unicast’s running interviews with a wide variety of fascinating leaders from across the professional spectrum, they held an exciting conversation with Ashish Mehrotra – CEO and MD at Max Bupa, one of India’s largest health insurance companies. From engaging industry insights such as the parallels between the Indian and Chinese lending bubbles, to more personal vocational advice such as the merits of loyalty as an employee, the conversations were diverse and covered a multitude of topics. Yet, one discussion that emerged as one of the most impressive was Mr. Mehrotra’s vision for diversifying the Max Bupa brand beyond the hyper-competitive price point that most Indian insurers pivoted themselves towards.


As Mr. Mehrotra tells us, the Indian consumer is a ‘value seeker’ – one incredibly sensitive to price changes and very aware of the opportunities that the market provides. This only exacerbates the existing situation in India, where the insurance market already features large players equally capable of pushing the other off to get a larger slice of the pie. So, in this environment, how did Mr. Mehrotra manage to increase prices by 29% while improving customer loyalty by 20%? As a leader in such a climate, how do you move beyond burning cash and into creating a sustainable financial model?


For the first 6 years of the firm, Mr. Mehrotra informed that for every 100 dollars spent, only 30 dollars were realised in revenues. This isn’t uncommon in a competitive, money-burning environment where firms, fervent believers in the Amazon fallacy, believe that this is a preliminary cost of capturing the market and breaking into the industry. According to Mr. Mehrotra, however, the firm needed to undergo a fundamental assessment of inherent strength and an optimisation of the target-client model. Thus, there were two important strategies employed by the leadership to pull this firm into sustainability.


The first of these involved understanding who the product was designed for and identifying any divergence in the consumer group that was truly consuming it. As claimed by Mr. Mehrotra, while the products were often designed for the wealthy and affluent demographic, a large portion of their customer base for such products was the ‘emerging affluent’ subset of the population which meant that the structure of the package itself and the potential costs this presented to Max Bupa were not optimal. Thus, the first step entailed repricing products to suit the target client in mind. The second important strategy was to create a differentiated value proposition that went beyond price savings for the customer. This was realised via the vision to bring Max Bupa to the public through a physical presence at key-customer-acquiring locations - more specifically, at hospitals. The drive to create a “touch and feel for the brand” led Max Bupa to differentiate themselves by a variety of industry-leading facilities such as its novel ‘Point of Care’ desks and innovative AnyTime Health Machine – which could conduct a quick health check-up for potential customers in just one minute, recommend relevant insurance policies and execute the deal on the spot. The combination of these changes meant that prices were now calibrated to be optimal for the demographics they were targeting and the customer base they had, and non-price facets of Max Bupa became far superior to those of its rivals which helped them usurp any damage caused by rising prices. In fact, Mr. Mehrotra tells us, Max Bupa had the liberty to raise prices even up to 40-50%, (as compared to the 29% price hike Max Bupa went ahead with, as a result of these dynamic organisational changes.


To learn more about the financial industry and gain valuable advice on professional growth, watch our full interview with Ashish Mehrotra at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NmX1V8Jsk


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