India-born digital payment companies PhonePe and Paytm plan to spend a combined Rs 2,000 crore (US$278m) on marketing this year, according to top executives at these firms.

While PhonePe has earmarked Rs 800 crore (US$111m) for marketing, Paytm plans to spend Rs 1,200 crore (US$166.7m).

For both companies, adspend will be spread across all platforms including ATL marketing for widespread brand-building advertising, and BTL marketing for targeted campaigns as well as digital marketing. Both payment players share the same objectives of increasing awareness, credibility and promoting products to a wider consumer audience.

“For us, a strong brand recall on trust, integrity, and innovation is important as our focus is to get at least 150 million new users through the year,” PhonePe founder and chief executive Sameer Nigam told ETtech. The Flipkart-owned entity currently has about 200 million registered customers of which 75 million are monthly active users. Nigam said the company plans to double that active user base this year.

ETtech noted that the move also signals a larger trend brewing in the financial services sector where companies are looking at multiple ways to establish credibility with their audience. A large portion are new users including merchants from smaller towns and villages – making their first digital transactions via these payment platforms.

“Our branding and marketing campaigns are designed and conceptualised to be simple but effective so that they can resonate with our merchants and users, be it in metropolitans or small tier-III and rest of India towns,” a Paytm spokesperson told Economic Times. The online payment platform currently has a 70% share in offline merchant payments and is accepted at over 14 million retail outlets.

Last year, Paytm was awarded title sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket board’s international and domestic seasons till 2023. The company has been investing heavily to maintain its leadership position in the Indian online payments market, with a reported US$49.5m in marketing initiatives during the last quarter of 2019.

The ETtech report also noted that financial services companies are increasingly forming partnerships with celebrities, banking on data which indicates that consumers show greater recall and trust in products that have been endorsed by celebrities — regardless of whether they are actual fans or not. PhonePe has roped in Alia Bhatt along with Aamir Khan as brand ambassadors. While merchant service and UPI payments app BharatPe brought onboard Salman Khan last year.

Sourced from Economic Times Tech, Brand Equity