From pessimism to empowerment: Insurance majors on brand shift - Part 2

From bringing ‘Something for Everyone’ to playing the role of ‘Sache Advisors’ to empowering people ‘Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi’ so that they can ‘Jiyo Befikar’ – insurance players have come a long way in their marketing and communication strategy. 

Gone is the ‘hard sell’ stance, and instead there is more emphasis on relationships, empowerment, looking ahead at the future with hope. Adgully spoke to a cross section of insurance industry majors to have more insight on the shift in brand communication, the marketing strategies and the factors that have influenced this change. 

While in the first part of this feature report we had we focussed on the communications aspect, in Part 2, we take a look at how insurance players are leveraging digital to reach out to customers as well as maintaining their competitive edge in a tough market scenario. 

Building Brand Connect on Digital 

According to Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President and Head – Marketing, Analytics, Digital & E-commerce, HDFC Life, with technology increasingly becoming a part of consumers’ everyday life, every brand needs to speak the digital language. Digital marketing not only helps in maintaining the interaction with the audience, but also understand the consumer sentiment. He added, “Social platforms create continuous engagement at a cost which is quite less when compared to other media channels. Right from creating brand awareness to customer service, HDFC Life is evolving its digital integration. One can tweet a query to our handle and even buy a plan from our Facebook page. Our website helps a customer to buy a policy all by himself and we have multiple touch points to aid at any step. Our new App helps you buy a plan and support policy servicing on the go. Our digital presence not only helps us in connecting with our audience, but also build in their reliability and trust in our brand.” 

Echoing similar views, Martijn de Jong, Chief Digital Officer, Aegon Life Insurance, said, “Digital has always been an important part of our communication and media mix and enables us to hyper-target our consumers by means of customised and personalised communication. We were the first insurance company to launch an online term plan and the first one to abolish the agency channels and go fully D2C, hence digital is the leading medium for business as well as brand. Also, the increase in digital customers has led to a differentiation in how customers consume media. Over the last two years, our focus on digital branding has increased exponentially.” 

According to Upendra Namburi, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer, Bharti Axa General Insurance, it is consumers’ needs, preferences and lifestyles which influence a brand’s relationship with them. Digital channels and platforms offer a medium for consumption and conversation. Hence, the attempt has been to trigger conversations across all communication modes. The increasing shift towards digital channels has influenced not only methods of content consumption, but also the methods and mode of messaging. Video formats are increasingly becoming de-rigueur components. Gamification and interactive avenues are the next frontiers to be understood and explored in the coming times. 

He noted, “Today, digital plays a pivotal role in how we consume content across text, video or graphics. In addition, with the vast bouquet of content available in multiple variants, consumption is becoming more and more challenging. Ensuring engaging and relevant communication is the need of the hour, Shorter is the new cool. This mantra is what we use to ensure we stay relevant and effective in our digital communication.” 

Cigna TTK Health Insurance has a dedicated digitalisation vertical within the organisation, which primarily focuses on leveraging digital platforms and build capabilities basis the strategic priorities of the organisation. The firm’s Marketing Head, Sapna Desai, lists down a few elements of the digitalisation vertical: 

Cloud Adoption:
We have stated leveraging cloud platforms for quick adoption of disruptive technology stacks, and work in on in full swing for slowing migrating  our server/ infra  workload  on one of the leading cloud providers. 

Online Platforms:
We have mobile friendly website dedicated to our prospects and customers with necessary functionalities for purchase, renewals and servicing requests. We are among the few companies which operate through all business channels and have dedicated portals and necessary integration API’s to cater to (Customer Acquisition & Servicing) our distribution channel, Agency, Broker, Banc and partners. 

Mobile Apps:

Cigna TTK Get ProActiv – This is an app dedicated to our customers, encouraging them to lead a physically fit and healthy life

Cigna TTK AMS App (Activity Management System) - This app is dedicated to our Agency, Banca and Broking Channels for measuring productivity on the fields

InstaQuote: This is an offline quotation engine for insurance partners. 

Mobile Responsive Portal:
All our portals dedicated to customer and insurance partners are mobile responsive. 

We have a very strong and dedicated team working on our Analytical capabilities framework. We are leveraging leading DB provider for all our reporting needs with reporting requisite reporting tools needs. We are in process of setting our Data warehouse which will be released shortly. 

Innovative Technology Adoption:
We are at various stages of adoption towards the evaluation and adoption of technologies like BOTs, Robotics, Speech Analytics, Collaboration platforms, etc. 

We are leveraging the leading social media platforms to engage with our customers to increase awareness on products, services and Cigna TTK as a brand. We have a dedicated ORM Cell. 

“There are a multitude of ways in which we are rewiring ourselves to adapt to the digital consumer,” said Manik Nangia- Director Marketing and Chief Digital Officer, Max Life Insurance. “We're developing Mobile first strategies. We are experimenting with different communication tactics at the same time, as digital gives us the flexibility and the perks to do so. We are not just moulding our message to the medium, but also to the context, the consumer life stage, their online behaviour and their stage within the purchase funnel. Digital enables us to act swiftly as we get real time feedback on our service, people and campaigns.” 

Maintaining the Competitive Edge 

“At Cigna TTK, we leverage the power of research to understand the market needs and our products and services. We will also leverage our global experience to develop products that we are confident will be suitable for India. The value of Cigna’s services will be beneficial to customers across various life stages, as Cigna has extensive breadth and depth of resources and expertise to bring to India. Our strong model of product innovation and channel distribution will well serve the needs of the Indian market. We were the first health insurance company in India to offer health and wellness benefits to the Indian consumer. Focusing on innovation is another differentiator for us. We launched the very first health savings product called ProHealth Accumulate,” explained Sapna Desai

On the other hand, Max Life Insurance’s strategy is simple, as stated by Manik Nangia, which includes accurate prediction, quick response and having strong benchmarks and governance in place to ensure the company practices excellence in customer service, claims and prospect pitching. “We leverage analytics heavily to offer customised solutions. I also believe it’s important to focus on Protection. Sometimes we end up focussing so much on the frills that we forget the core. When you make protection the starting point of customer conversation, you naturally emerge stronger,” he added. 

Martijn de Jong stressed that the key point was understanding customer needs and wants, that meant engaging with the customer in multiple ways – via focus groups, personal visits, by phone, internet and so on. Elaborating further, he said, “The key here is the ability to listen and capture and analysis the input in the right way. The results of this omni-channel approach – as we call it – is then used as input to further improve our customer service and client facing processes, create new services and target the right audience with the right communication and offer. Thus, engaging fully with the customer, analytics and using the input to come to better solutions (customer-centric thinking) will make the difference.” 

Namburi of Bharti Axa General Insurance noted that a sharp understanding of consumers and their constantly evolving tastes and needs is the singular factor that can allow brands to remain competitive. The ability to constantly listen, adapt and co-create products, services, experiences are the norms for today. Competitive edge can be sharply influenced by extreme flexibility and ability to deliver offerings which address the needs of evolving customer segments. Adopting design thinking and increasingly collaborating with consumers is a path which needs to be adopted by brands who wish to succeed in the short and long terms. 

HDFC Life’s Tripathy opined that in a low involvement category, there are a few things that are critical for brands today. Firstly, transparency and honesty in all dealings with customers is essential. With the ‘Apno ko apne dum pe jeena sikhao’ campaign, HDFC Life wanted to reinforce the core benefit of the category – protection against life’s uncertainties, which no other financial product provides. Secondly, having a digital edge is key. With the digital medium playing an important role at various points in the customer’s journey and growth of the internet, having a strategic digital presence is important. Lastly, having an integrated approach with presence across relevant touchpoints and giving customers a great brand experience is becoming increasingly important. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work in all cases. Segmented approach is the way to go in the future. 

Also read:

From pessimism to empowerment: Insurance majors on brand shift - Part 1


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