18.7 Million “Stuck Shoppers” Can’t Be Wrong

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As seen on LifeHealthPro.com

Using the words shopping and life insurance in the same sentence is the first indication that the “sold, not bought” paradigm is flipping. The notion that people care enough about life insurance to be proactive is a dream come true considering the growing number of uninsured U.S. households.

However, somewhere along the way, the dream turns into a nightmare. Now we know more about why and what to do about it.

LIMRA and Maddock Douglas, Inc., joined forces and revealed some new research estimating that 18.7 million people are “stuck shoppers.” Stuck shoppers are people who agree that “everyone needs life insurance,” yet they themselves do not have any, or they are people who have shopped in the past year or intend to shop in the next year and don’t have any life insurance that they pay for themselves.

Is this a case of the spirit being willing but the flesh being weak? Or is it something else? It is something else. And the problem isn’t them, it is us.

Seventy-three percent of consumers say it is the industry’s job to help them understand products and services.

Seventy-three percent of consumers say it is the industry’s job to help them understand products and services.

“It’s not me, it’s you”

The notion that life insurance is hard to buy isn’t new. For years, insurance companies have been pulling certain levers to make it easier to take the plunge. These include reducing prices, simplifying underwriting and expanding distribution channels. However, there is another lever that has not been pulled in a meaningful way that is to change how we communicate with consumers.

Consumers expect that of us. Seventy-three percent say it is the industry’s job to help them understand products and services, and 83 percent say that it’s our job to help them understand how they would benefit from them.

While some may suggest these are the agents’ jobs, today’s consumers like to learn about all kinds of products and services on their own. In fact, 84 percent of consumers say they are “do it yourself” researchers. As it applies to life insurance, 45 percent say the research process is “like going through a maze.”

With all of the information that insurance companies make available to the public on their websites and in print, why is it still so hard? A big part of the answer is that the information, in all its abundance, feels “inauthentic.”

Keeping It Real

Authenticity is hard to define exactly, but you know it when you see it. It is about being real. To help companies get their arms around authenticity in a meaningful way, we have identified six elements of authentic communication that help us to unravel it. They are about being:

1)  Easy to understand
2)  Down to Earth
3)  Memorable
4)  Positive
5)  Credible
6)  Relevant

Each has unique nuances and implications. This is not just about words, it is also about imagery, tone, length, medium and anything else that has the ability to convey an impression. Therefore, the job of changing goes way beyond your marketing department’s responsibility.

An Innovation Opportunity

We asked consumers to rate a significant smattering of insurance company website pages on the six authenticity elements. The pages were the ones that first introduce life and retirement products. The results? “Meh.” Not great, not horrible, not compelling. What does that mean?

Some would take that as a sign that nothing needs to change. Everyone is in the same boat. Others would see it as an innovation opportunity to stop measuring against other insurance companies and start measuring against industries known for awesome customer experience. Consumers expect us to raise the bar. Ahhh, Zappos!

At Maddock Douglas, we have worked with health insurance companies that have made significant, measurable improvement in consumer perceptions because of a sharp focus on communication. This is now an imperative, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

While there is no similar burning platform in life insurance to force change, could we consider the 18.7 million stuck shoppers as a hot enough reason to innovate? Hmmmm.