CRED King of Marketing | CRED Marketing Strategy | Cred advertisement explained

Introduction of CRED Marketing Strategy

 CRED does two things

1. CRED has a legendary founder, Kunal Shah, who has transformed the startup ecosystem in India. So that is the first key USP of CRED that it has a massive person backing it up.

2. CRED does is that it creates viral marketing campaigns. So that is what I know about CRED.

I’m going to show you and decode how CRED has been able to build a massive marketing strategy. And why is it that it’s marketing campaigns actually go viral.

CRED Marketing Strategy Explained 

So let us analyze CRED’s marketing strategy from a macro and a micro point of view.From a macro viewpoint, the overarching strategy is that, hey, let’s create wonderful word of mouth. Now, word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful ways of building a brand. You might have heard of Zerodha, that zerodha was able to build a billion dollar company without even spending one single rupee in paid advertising. Now, you might turn around and say CRED spends insane amount of money in terms of paid advertising.

CRED King of Marketing | CRED Marketing Strategy | Cred advertisement explained

Word of Mouth Advertising 

Word of mouth means that you’re creating products or advertisements which make people talk with each other about that product, product features,about the advertisements, about the founders, cofounders etc. That is what word of mouth means. When companies are spending money to get more eyeballs, that is called inorganic way of marketing. So word of mouth advertising does not mean that the company is not spending money. That happened in Zerodha’s case that they did not have to spend insane amount of money to generate word of mouth advertising. But in CRED’s case, they are spending money,but they are getting that word of mouth advertising to work for them.  one quick difference between Zerodha and CRED is that Zerodha actually thrives on displaying its product features.If you go and speak with someone who is a dedicated Zerodha user, they will say that he loves Zerodha’s platform because of its good UI/UX. We really love the product. We know what Zerodha does. It has a bunch of technical indicators, charts, graphs that I can look at before making my investment decisions. It has Zerodha Varsity, what not? It has a bunch of product attributes and ecosystem that makes the user experience really smooth, really positive, and makes the user speak about those positive experiences that they are getting out of Zerodha.

Now, if you compare that to CRED’s product strategy,  what is it that CRED actually does? I’m sure that I would get very vague responses like that hey CRED is a fintech company, CRED has a very UI/UX interface. It does something in credit card. Some people would even say that it does something in debit card. So there is a lot of confusion going around as to what exactly does CRED do in terms of its product. Everyone is clear about the marketing. So I hope this makes you understand that this simple business strategy that CRED has right now is just to make people talk about their product and talk about CRED, that’s it. That’s what the business game plan here is. Now, an important point to note here is that the word of mouth only works, it only works if people consistently talk about that product or that company. This is exactly why a company like CRED would produce a variety of advertisements. So they have Madhuri Dixit also. They have Anil Kapoor also. They have Bappi Lahiri also. They have Rahul Dravid also. And going forward, I’m sure that they would bring in a lot of other people. But the point that I want you to notice is why do they need to bring in so many celebrities? The answer is very simple, that because they need to create diversified ads so that people keep talking about it. So by creating a strong word of mouth, CRED has become a very strong company about which we all love to speak about. So at this stage, it might be useful for us to analyze the micro strategies that CRED is using to generate this very strong word of mouth.

CRED’s Marketing Strategy Micro POV

So the simple framework that CRED is using to generate virality for its marketing campaign can be STEPPS. S-T-E-P-P-S.

So this is a framework that I borrowed from this book called as Contagious. It is a very interesting book. It is written by Professor Jonah Berger, who is a professor at University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School. And he talks about this framework from the point of view as to why certain things go viral. Why is it that certain ideas go viral? Why is it that certain campaigns and YouTube videos go viral? So he has explained that concept via this framework. So it might be very useful for us to take a quick look at this framework and analyze CRED’s strategy from that viewpoint.

So STEPPS is basically an acronym

where S means social currency. Social currency is essentially a point or a talking point or a particular aspect about which people love to talk.

For example, people love to talk about CRED Ads.People love to talk about a complicated concept called as Ikigai. Many of us do not understand what Ikigai is, but we would talk about it because it just makes us sound smart. Similarly, CRED has become a company about which people love to talk. So it has somewhat become a social currency about which there is a constant chatter going on, if you go on Linkedin, Twitter or whatnot. Name another company that is using this concept of social currency and making it ads appear really cool and smart. According to me, there are two such companies in India right now, one is Zomato, one is Amul. And Amul has been using this social currency game for such a long time now. Whenever there is any kind of recent event Amuls gives its own twist to that particular event and portrays its advertisement in a very, very creative way. So my favorite company that is using this concept of social currency very, very intelligently is Amul. Do let me know, which, according to you, is your favorite company.

Now, the second thing in the STEPPs framework is called T, Trigger.

So trigger means that these are data points on anchors that orient us towards that company. As an example, if I tell you the name MRF, what is it that you recall? I’m sure that like me, many of you would recall Sachin Tendulkar. Why? So Sachin used to play with this MRF bat and MRF became synonymous to Sachin.So every time we hear the word MRF or we encounter something about MRF our brain automatically triggers and points us to Sachin Tendulkar. So that is what trigger means. So how is CRED actually using this trigger concept? Very easy. For example, I have barely spent any time in Bangalore. I’ve just been there one or two times. I don’t even know where Indiranagar is. But when I hear the word Indiranagar now, my brain automatically triggers me to think about Indiranagar ka gunda who is Rahul Dravid. So that is how Trigger happens. And CRED is using this concept beautifully and integrating it into its marketing campaigns.

Now, the third part of the framework that CRED is using is called as Emotions. Now emotions, we all understand. But let me help you further consolidate this point by asking you a very simple question about CRED – why has CRED hired Madhuri Dixit over Priyanka Chopra? Why has CRED hired Anil Kapoor over Vicky Kaushal? Why has CRED hired Bappi Lahiri over Arijit Singh? The reason is very, very simple, that actually great wants to appeal to a certain type of audience because they are in the credit card business and they need people who have good income streams and usually these would be peoplewho are above 25. And usually these would be the kids who would have grown up in the mid 90s and they will have a very strong emotional connect with people like Madhuri Dixit over Priyanka Chopra. For example, I would have a much stronger emotional connect with Madhuri Dixit over Priyanka Chopra. Similarly, higher salaried older folks, for example, people who are above 40 years of age, they might connect more with Bappi Lahiri and Anil Kapoor over someone like Arijit Singh or Ranbir Kapoor. So that is the reason why CRED has used this emotional trigger to appeal to their user base or the user base they want to build. 

Then the first P in this framework stands for Practical Value. Now, this is a highly controversial point, according to me, the app does not offer massive practical value. It is just competing on the ease of usage. It has a cool interface, that is what people have been talking about. So we can give CRED some points in terms of their product design, and that is what its practical value is. But again, I would stand firm on what I had earlier said that according to me, the practical value of CRED is that it can generate viral marketing campaigns. So that is what the practical value of CRED is.

The second P stands for Public. Public means that people act when they see other people acting. This aligns with one of the quotations from this book, Contagious. So here, Professor Jonah Berger tells us that monkey does what monkey sees. So similarly, if people see other people talk about the CRED advertisements, if you go to a party, if your friend is discussing CRED ads and if you don’t know enough about CRED ads, what would that do to you? You would go back, you would open your laptop, you will watch the CRED ads, and then you will come back to the next party with a vengeance to talk about CRED ads. Right. So this becomes a part of the social currency, plus what people like to talk about. So it’s a mix of both these points. The important thing to note about this public viewpoint is that it needs to have a certain sticky point. For example, the Rahul Dravid’s ad that CRED built around Indiranagar ka gunda, that has a certain stickiness to it, that you would remember this even when you close your laptop, even when you are taking a vacation one year from now, even someone like me was hardly spent much time in Bangalore. If I were visit Bangalore the first time, that stickiness is that that you know what that is some place in Bangalore called as Indiranagar, let me go and visit it because I had heard about it on CRED’s ad. And so that stickiness component is there. And if that stickiness component is there, people love to talk about it and they remember that for a long, long period of time.

The final point on this framework is S, which is called as Stories. Now, CRED has been able to develop marketing campaigns that are telling wonderful stories. For example, if you take a look at any of the celebrities, be it Anil Kapoor, be it Madhuri Dixit. And if you look at that 30, 40, 50 seconds ad, there is a story that goes along with it. For example, the story usually goes something like this. That person is auditioning for something and the person gets rejected despite being a celebrity. So there is a story, there is a story of struggle. There is a story of surprise. So that story element is there, CRED’s ads according to me, are very entertaining, very viral. And they have a social currency associated with it that makes people talk about CRED.


CRED has been able to generate massive word of mouth that people love to speak about. They have been able to pull systematic levers in terms of triggering social currency, making people speak about their campaigns, creating an emotional connect and a bunch of different positive things that other brands can also pick from CRED. And if you’re starting your business, you should do too. This is what my overview of the entire CRED ‘s marketing plan was. Now, in passing, I would want you to answer one simple question that do you think that such a marketing strategy is sustainable? Do you think that such a marketing strategy is sustainable? Do give your comments. I would love to read it.

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