Sheila Paul, Chief Marketing Officer, Home Credit Philippines
As a senior marketer with a strong technology & digital background, stepping into the Chief Marketing Officer role at Home Credit, a company bent on an encompassing digital transformation, was an exciting challenge. Home Credit, the Philippines’ top consumer finance company kicked off it’s dominance in the Philippines in 2013 with a strong nationwide, very much brick-and-mortar distribution of installment financing for gadgets & appliances for the unbanked segment. In the Philippines, where “malling culture” prevailed, most consumers preferred shopping in airconditioned malls prior to the nationwide lockdowns brought on by the pandemic.
For Home Credit, the digital shift was already underway as early as 2017, but the pandemic pushed it towards the top of the agenda, as with most other businesses. In a country where the median age is in the mid-20s, and smartphone & internet penetration has risen to 80%, and social media dominates surfing time, companies needed to reach customers where they were waiting out the community quarantines – at home & online.
Most companies are on the right track (Home Credit included), when the digital shift is not only in channel marketing, but at the core of the product itself. In the past year, most of our digital transformations revolved around building up the My Home Credit app and making it the heart of our ecosystem. Besides improving the self-service options for their loans and credit cards, we enabled QR payments to provide contactless payment at physical stores. We developed an in-app loan approval process, as convenient and safe way to apply for Home Credit loans. We launched Home Credit Pay so our 7M+ customers could buy mobile load, settle their bills on the app, and pay for their Home Credit loans online anytime, anywhere. To improve app engagement and build a daily relationship with our customers, we introduced the SMILE discounts program, which offers app users shopping deals and discounts from their favorite F&B, apparel, & gadgets stores. Late in 2020, we debuted the Home Credit Marketplace, where customers can conveniently browse for gadgets & appliances from trusted partner stores, compare prices, reserve their items, and get pre-approved for installment financing.
The digital transformation of products goes hand-in-hand with digital facing communications to reach more consumers. During this time, we started to expand Home Credit’s online presence through digital strategies such as always-on search and performance marketing in key platforms like Facebook and Google. Now, we are also diversifying our investment and piloting new channels. There were also improvements in our leads management system, both from what the customers experience and in leading traffic to the right places within our Sales network. Besides expanding digital channels, we learned a lot in terms of developing creative assets. We started rolling out communications showcasing what customers need (Latest gadgets? Pay your bills?) – with loan offers only being secondary. We regularly refreshed featured items according to the best-selling model during that period and instrumented the journey from click to purchase to get robust data and refine our marketing programs even better.
Given these new insights, we realized that people aren’t out there to look for financing. Instead, they search for products that they need and are important to themselves and their families – and this is exactly what Home Credit seeks to provide, with products and services that are easy and affordable to access. At the end of the day, the focus of our digital transformation efforts remains to be our customers and how our products enable them to achieve what they want in life.