NTUC Income’s new chief marketing officer, Dhiren Amin, is looking to use his skills picked up at large consumer goods giants Unilever and Kraft Heinz to help the Singapore-based insurer expand its services and steer its marketing initiatives as it grows into new markets. The former Asia marketing chief for Kool Aid and Jell-O maker Kraft Heinz will now helm marketing for a five-decade-old insurance company that is undergoing a brand and business transformation in an increasingly competitive market.
“A lot of the skills are transferrable (between FMCG and financial services and insurance), and I see leveraging effective marketing to drive a company’s commercial agenda as an essential one to apply and embed in the role of a CMO,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific is his first interview since taking over. “For insurance, there has been a pivotal channel-shift to digital commerce, and an insurer’s ability to use an effective myriad of touchpoints to engage customers…towards better financial well-being, is business-critical.”
Over the past couple of years doing business in the pandemic, the insurance industry was forced to overhaul its business. Long-reliant on reaching end-consumers through intermediaries such as insurance agents, the sector has had to rapidly restructure itself to reach consumers directly.
Simultaneously, Amin and his fellow insurance CMOs are leaning on consumers taking their health more seriously and investing more in proactive wellness, rather than just reactively when they fall ill.
“As customers become increasingly digital-first, insurers are in an intense competition to fight for consumers’ mindshare, and this is akin to FMCG products,” Amin, a multiple-time member of Campaign’s Asia-Pacific Power List, added. “I’m confident that my experience will help Income keep pace with this evolving market phenomenon.”
Amin replaces Marcus Chew, who moved to ecommerce platform Lazada. A new CMO for Kraft Heinz hasn’t yet been named. At the consumer goods company, Amin was based in Shanghai but has relocated to Singapore for his new role and will report to NTUC Income’s CEO Andrew Yeo. Amin now has a 30-person marketing team to work with.
At Kraft Heinz, he oversaw the repositioning of local brands Master and Guanghe in China and drove awareness of the company’s other products among those interested in Western-style cooking. Elsewhere, he led the creation of purpose-driven work in his five-year stint, including the ‘Real Husbands Cook’ campaign for ABC Soy Sauce in Indonesia.
He joins an insurance brand that has historically operated only in Singapore but has recently announced ambitious regional expansion plans in Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. On the creative front, NTUC Income has had a few sterling campaigns recently, including a two-minute single take TVC using a drone put together by BBH. The agency led an integrated campaign to promote a change in tagline from ‘Made Different’ to ‘Made Yours.’
Amin recognises the strong legacy of brand NTUC Income, but equally the opportunity to take this story forward. “Income is a brand that Singaporeans hold close to their hearts,” he said. “What makes it even more exciting is the chance to helm the marketing function at a time when Income is amid a major transformation.”
He points out that the brand is corporatising (changing from a co-op to a corporation) and gaining significant traction in its digital transformation as it reinvents its business with innovations and sharpened customer experience. “The main challenge will be to develop a marketing strategy that enables us to extend Income in new markets, while keeping true to what Income stands for,” he added.
The corporatisation would allow the insurer to shed restrictions around fundraising and share price dictated by Singapore regulation and instead gain more "operational flexibility…to compete on an equal footing with other insurers locally and regionally,” according to a statement.
Set up as a co-operative in 1970, the insurer serves more than two million policyholders.