Roger Edwards: Why nobody cares about protection promotion – Money Marketing

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Why is there so little promotion of protection insurance? I don’t mean the PR, advertising and social media campaigns we put together to tell advisers about our latest product enhancements. Whether that’s adding a few new critical illnesses to an already long list or amalgamating some of the conditions into a more consolidated list or tweaking the added value services.
I mean promotion to the public. The end customer. The people who will ultimately receive help from the pay out of a life assurance or critical illness policy, hopefully, many years in the future.
This question raised itself in my mind (for more than the thousandth time in the couple of decades I’ve worked in the industry) when sat on an EasyJet flight from Edinburgh to Tenerife a few months ago. My wife and I were so excited. This was our first holiday abroad since before the pandemic.
We continue to rely on advisers to try and “sell” the benefits, while overwhelming them with product enhancements and technicalities.
Now, I’m a bit of an aviation geek (there is a hashtag #avgeeks). I’ve been fascinated by planes since I was a child and, that day, the metal flying us down to Tenerife South was an Airbus A320neo. The acronym, neo, stands for new engine option. Unlike the original version of the A320, these neos have much bigger engines, with giant fans, which create more thrust for less fuel. They’re also much quieter.
For most people boarding a flight, the model of plane is of no interest at all. They wouldn’t know – or care about – the difference between an Airbus and a Boeing, let alone whether it was an A320neo or a B737Max.
What they are interested in is whether it will safely fly them to a sunny destination for an affordable price.
When EasyJet promotes its products and service to its customers, it tends to stick to the feature benefits of its offer. Advertising talks about its destinations to create interest and longing and a desire to travel. Promotions also focus on price and talk about low fares and value for money. Price continues to be a thing when onboard. Look at all those meal deals. And there’s always another 25% off all items in the duty free catalogue.
What EasyJet doesn’t do is promote, in detail, the inner workings of the CFM International LEAP-1A engine and how a much bigger, more powerful engine can be quieter and more fuel efficient than the older smaller engines.
Thinking about those engines was the moment a smile drifted across my face and I made the connection to protection. If the protection industry did flights, our promotions would focus on those internal engine intricacies.
Imagine the headline: “Our new CIC Engine has fan blades two inches longer than our nearest competitor. And the inner thrust combustion chamber has over 1000 moving parts.”
Apart from plane geeks like me, nobody cares. They want to go to Tenerife or Croatia or Barbados. At a decent price.
The biggest issue the protection industry still faces is that the end customer still doesn’t get the benefit of protection products. They are nowhere near the stage travelers are at, where the inner workings of the aircraft they are sitting on are irrelevant because they are completely invested in the benefit they deliver. Getting from A to B.
We continue to rely on advisers to try and “sell” those benefits, while overwhelming them with product enhancements and technicalities.
The economic environment is right for benefit-based messages to land better with consumers.
It must be time to rethink the promotion of protection. We’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis when insurance is likely to fall much lower down the list of people’s priorities. And in a downturn, product provider marketing budgets will come under pressure as well.
But maybe the time is right for some significant investment in promotion. The economic environment is right for benefit-based messages to land better with consumers.
Any campaign would have to be creative and engaging. We are bombarded with adverts every time we turn on a TV, open a YouTube video or click on a web page. We must stand out rather than be annoying.
But protection is important enough to rise to the challenge. It’s time to finally shout loud and wide about the benefits and scale back our obsession with technical features. Is anyone willing to make the leap?
Roger Edwards is managing director of Roger Edwards Marketing Ltd and marketing director of Protection Review
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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.
Some fair points, but unlike a flight where the end result is an unarguable arrival (normally). The benefit is years into the future, not just after a few hours flight. And with the intricacies of life assurance (particularly CI) there are always caveats and
No, we don’t cover this or that. You didn’t disclose that you had a pimple on your nose. Claims are often an involved and tortuous process. (And I speak from first- hand experience) and so forth. The problem is that life companies do try to either find a reason to wriggle out, or make the claims process very tortuous and drawn out. Basically, the public doesn’t have much faith in insurers. Frogmarching customers into buying what is patently in their best interest isn’t ideal. If people are too stupid to realise the advantages of being properly covered then there isn’t much hope. Then there is the matter of direct sales via the TV or even the supermarket. On a plain death policy how happy will the beneficiaries be when they realise that IHT has to be paid or that they have to wait for probate. Life of another, policies in trust? Half cocked policies do no one any favours. Then there is the matter of commission. High time this was banned. As I have mentioned on innumerable occasions a nil commission contract – even with a reasonable adviser fee added, is far cheaper over the policy term than a full commission contract. Then with commission, is there really twice the work for a £100k policy than a £50k policy? So why the higher commission?
This issue has been around since Noah was a lad. Life insurance is simply not an attractive proposition to most people. Generally, it takes a specific use-case (e.g. taking on a mortgage) to be spelt out by somebody with vested interest (e.g. an adviser) to persuade consumers to purchase. So, unless someone can make the basic proposition fundamentally more attractive then unfortunately I suspect we will see articles like this in 10, 20, 50 years time.
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