Kavi Rajapaksha’s equation of magic and logic
Even though she has achieved massive success in the field of marketing, she still prefers to think of herself as part scientist and part marketer.
Kavi Rajapaksha, the Head of Marketing at Softlogic Life is a student of chemistry. Even though she has achieved massive success in the field of marketing, she still prefers to think of herself as part scientist and part marketer. Soon after the completion of her degrees in chemistry, she chose not to pursue a PhD. Instead, Kavi secured a position at Unilever as a management trainee. As a part of the cross functional exposure she received, marketing was an area that she developed a keen interest for. Her career at Unilever lasted nearly six years before she joined Softlogic Life.
Can you comment on your transition from a background in chemistry to the corporate world?
I hold two special degrees in chemistry, so my entire background has always been in the sciences. When I applied and got into Unilever, I had no idea what I was stepping into. It was very daunting at first; I remember being overwhelmed by a lot of acronyms and business jargon. However, I didn’t shy away from the challenge, within a short period of time I was able to adapt. I had a choice, either swim or drown and luckily, I was able to swim.
Are you enjoying your career as a marketer? Do you still find yourself using your knowledge of science?
I am definitely enjoying it and I have been lucky to have been able to use my chemistry knowledge also from time to time. I can recall one instance when I was handling the Astra brand. We were faced with a business continuity issue with the factory tragically burning down. With over 95 percent market share, being a brand that was 50 years old at the time, we had to secure means of producing Astra as soon as possible at the same quality as Sri Lanka was the only country that had the brand. I had to work closely with R&D teams in various parts of the world to bring back Astra to Sri Lanka whilst also producing a good revival campaign to manage the reputational risk for the brand. In terms of Softlogic Life, it has proven to be brand that follows an absolute science. People ask me if I respect theories and fundamentals because I am a scientist, but in reality, marketing is a fusion of logic and magic. As we have seen with the development of Softlogic Life, the fusion produces amazing results.
Softlogic Life has enjoyed exponential growth, how was this achieved?
As we are a fast-growing entity, people often question the secret to our growth. When factoring our sales, customer satisfaction, brand equity and awards, we truly are a benchmark in the industry. Even our recent move to the One Galle Face office tower was considered monumental and bold as we were the first Sri Lankan entity to make such a move. At the end of the day, our success is because Softlogic Life firmly believes that employee and customer satisfaction are of paramount importance. It is the people hard at work, behind the scenes who have made it so. Every strategic decision is made by considering such from a customer’s point of view. We also make sure to stand by the promises we make; it isn’t simply a marketing rhetoric. This is why 99 percent of the claims made last year have been paid.
In terms of your competition, how challenging was the brand building aspect for Softlogic Life?
When considering all of our competitors, their market presence has been around for decades and counting, meanwhile we are in our 19th year of operations and of these 19 years, only 3 years account for our presence as a new brand. As a result, brand building from a marketing perspective was a significant challenge. Consumers don’t often decide to purchase life insurance, it is an approach by a sales agent which makes one think about such a decision. We are happy to report that while the industry reports a 5 year compound annual growth rate of 17%, ours has been 35%! We were number 5 in the market last year and are currently in the 4th place.
Softlogic Life has been known to follow a unique approach to marketing, what are your thoughts?
Our competitors have relied on fear mongering and negative marketing approaches to sway consumers into purchasing life insurance. Softlogic Life’s purpose is to be a partner in wellbeing. We are a brand which is about being positive and optimistic in life. Towards being positive and to avoid all the uncertainties in life, Softlogic Life offers varied solutions and has created a brand that communicates the essence of protection in the most meaningful manner. When a loved one falls sick you want to get the best healthcare in the world and when the bread winner of the family passes, the entire family’s financial stability, children’s education, breaks down. It is that financial stability and mental freedom of knowing that your family will be okay when misfortune hits you, is what a life insurance brand can give you.
Softlogic Life is about inspiring people to live their lives to the fullest day in day out by making great choices with regards to their fitness, wellness and nutrition apart from the above functional and emotional benefits of having a life insurance. That is why we have gone on to launch iconic campaigns such as “Leda Leda” which are positive and inspiring in comparison to the gruesome, negative communication the industry is used to.
What comments do you have on the brand’s recent stellar performance at the Effies?
We walked away with two Golds for the campaign in the Insurance category & David Vs. Goliath category. In addition, we received a Silver award for our use of influencers and two Finalists awards in the corporate reputation and media partnership categories. It was an epic night for all of us considering that only 11 Gold awards have been awarded so far since the Effie Awards’ inception in Sri Lanka. The glory should go to our partner agencies as well; MullenLowe and Third Shift Media. As all the teams really worked on this campaign, we ticked all the boxes. The leda leda campaign has since changed the perception of insurance in the country and has become the most talked about piece of communication for its creativity, effectiveness, execution quality and engaging value. It’s encouraging to see our competitors also following the positive communication approach.
Have you ever encountered a glass a ceiling? How would you advise the new generation of corporate women?
I personally feel that women leaders have a lot of challenges. Women are judged based on attire, tonality, work attitude etc. But, I also feel that the glass ceiling you speak of is being blown out of proportion by ourselves. As women we need to embrace our strengths; our caring nature, our creativity, our ability to multitask and only think about realizing our dreams versus being worried about what others think. We need to let our results speak whilst being true to ourselves.