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SBI Mutual Fund leads Nielsen’s Brand Equity Index in the 2007

SBI Mutual Fund leads Nielsen’s Brand Equity Index in the 2007 Winning Brands Mutual Fund, a premier study that tracks the brand performance of various mutual fund houses. The Nielsen Winning Brands Mutual Fund study, in its third year, polled 1,662 Indian consumers via face-to-face interviews across 10 cities in India.

As the findings reveal, Reliance Mutual Fund has emerged as a runner up with the fastest growth, almost doubling its index score from the previous year, and jumping from fifth to the second position in 2007. Last year’s runner up, ICICI Prudential, slipped to the number three position, albeit very close behind Reliance.

It’s worth noting that this year saw the absolute indices of some of the dominant brands like SBI, Prudential, UTI and HDFC appear much lower than in the previous year.

“The larger brands have shown a dip in their equity strength, while share of mind of some of the smaller brands have actually gone up at the expense of the bigger brands - clearly investors are contemplating more brand options than before,” says Nipa Parekh, at Financial ServicesResearch, The Nielsen Company, India.

On average, consumers’ awareness of the investment related brands went up from 12.9 brands last year to 18.5 brands in 2007, showing a significant increase. However, the average number of brands in a consumer’s consideration set went up slightly from 2.76 to 3.4, which implies a strong need to build brand consideration. This is even more important as Indian consumers are increasingly investing their discretionary money into stocks and mutual funds, according to a global consumer confidence and opinion survey conducted at the end of April 2007.

“Sustaining a strong media presence is a prerequisite for mutual funds, given the plethora of brands the consumer is aware of. However the task does not end there - it is important to be a part of consumers' limited but slowly increasing consideration set by focusing on ground level activities that can give consumers more knowledge and reasons to choose the brand,” says Parekh.

India’s mutual fund industry is surging ahead, as a growing number of retail investors, lapping up the fund offerings, are finding it a safe and relatively high-return investment vehicle. Tax benefits, however, seems to be the most important trigger for investing in a mutual fund, a probable entry point for many.

The key drivers for Brand Equity continue to be awareness followed by consideration in the category in general. Quality of awareness also appears to be the single largest driver. Having considered a brand, the last mile to securing the sale is likely to depend on the confidence of the agent, based on basic product characteristics of the mutual fund such as returns and services, while the trust and reputation of a brand should not be overlooked it appears to be more of a hygiene factor.

(This is the press release of ACNielsen)

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