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Dabbawallas turn investment couriers

business Updated: Nov 19, 2008 21:56 IST

They used to wear Gandhi caps and carried lunch. Now they sport T-shirts and send mutual funds.

In the latest twist to innovation in the competitive, crunch-hit financial sector, Mumbai’s famed packed-food couriers, the dabbawallas, have turned to be the distributors of application forms of the new fund offerings by mutual funds.

To cut down on marketing expenditure, UTI Asset Management Company hired the services of the 5,000 odd dabbawallas in Mumbai having a reach of up to five lakh people. They helped the fund house to reach out to the investors with the application form of UTI Wealth Builder Series 2 scheme that closed for subscription on Wednesday. It is expected to raise Rs 300 crore.

“Bombay dabbawallas are synonymous with the city and tying up with them gives us the advantage of their efficiency, logistics and relationships,” said Jaideep Bhattacharya, chief marketing officer, UTI AMC. “They also wear out T-shirts that we have provided and thus they also help in the exposure of the product and brand.”

The fund house adopted the direct approach to reach the investors and so involved the dabbawallas to help the fund house reach the investors.

The new fund offer (NFO) — the fourth equity scheme offered by mutual funds since September — lacked the presence of big hoardings on the city streets and barely any advertisements in newspapers and news-channels, which used to be earlier flush with them.

“We have cut down on our advertisement expenditure this time. We spent one tenth of average expenditure on advertisements on NFOs earlier,” said Debashish Mohanty, head marketing, UTI Asset Management. Not only this, the fund house asked the distributors to work on low commissions. “We are not giving out high commissions at this time and the distributors are willing to work on low commissions.”