Does anybody smell shift?

Innovating in a “Sold, Not Bought” Category

Stop Focusing on “What” and Start Focusing on “Who”

Flirting With the Uninterested is literally what the insurance and financial services industry executives and distributors are doing on a regular basis. It’s a little like dating, in that the ones we want the most are those who care the least and vice versa.

While that would be fine if this were really a dating game, but the truth is that the industry provides a lot of good, yet the younger generations are becoming more inclined to say they are interested when you ask, but then they never call.

We convince ourselves it is because the world is just too busy, they just don’t know any better, or because they don’t want to think about negative things. While that may be true, it is not the real reason. What is it?

They are just not that into us.

Some may argue that it is unrealistic to think that consumers would ever be “into” their insurance company. However, in recent times, insurance is actually more top of mind thanks to health care reform, natural disasters and the increase in the incidence of iPhone loss. OK, the last one was made up, but we suspect it to be true. The trouble is, consumers don’t know how to value what they get from their insurance company. They know they pay money, but they can never tell if it is the right amount, for the right thing and at the right time. Some go without because they can’t rationalize writing a check for insurance when there are other important and immediate things pressing on their monthly budget.

The industry has been complaining for a long time about things like the aging and shrinking of the distribution channel that “sold” the product. And after all, it has to be sold, otherwise nobody would buy it, right? This bred a fixation on the agent/advisor as the customer, and the industry has become more and more out of touch with the ultimate buyer.

The industry has also been complaining about the squeezing of their profit margins, and the inability to reach the middle market efficiently. These complaints have gone on for so long without a resolution. The reason? They are not problems. They are symptoms of a bigger issue. The industry is losing relevance.

Is the product losing relevance or is it the wrapper? Hmmm. One can definitely argue that the nature of risk has changed over the last several decades and that people are not as concerned about daily threats to their life, health and money as they were a century ago. However, what’s more evident is that the industry has not kept up with the times. We have not acknowledged the changes in today’s consumers. The way they learn, the way they communicate, the way they buy. We have been focused on selling something, not on who is buying it. While we may know where they live and how much money they have, we know nothing of their attitudes, behaviors and unmet needs.

It means starting with the consumer insight first, not the product. It means knowing what very specific needs remain unmet and then meeting them. It means knowing the difference between a true innovation and just an invention.

This book is for anyone in an industry where the “what” has eclipsed the “who” for too long. It is also for those who are frustrated with the lack of new thinking and want to do something about it. We hope it inspires just a few people to make change. If you don’t, eventually someone else will. We are here to help.