Automobile insurance companies claiming the same position

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

31 August 2010

Wake up, automobile insurance brands

Most outsiders (and even analysts) believe that the auto insurance market is driven by price and that the competition for customers is cost driven. After all, they reason, insurance coverage is quantifiable and, therefore, it is possible to compare (rationally) apples to apples.

Think about the television advertising “leader” in the auto insurance category. It is nearly impossible to watch any TV these days without seeing a GEICO ad. It might be the old familiar caveman or the ubiquitous gecko. The, usually, 15-second spots are often bought in back-to-back lots so you get a double dose of the gecko and his sidekicks. They are intended to be humorous but humor has a short shelf life. Therefore, GEICO has to churn out a bunch of these and keep them fresh. (It is a great gig for the advertising agency.)

“One reason why the insurance market is so lost is because, for years, the players in the market have simply promised the minimum benefits in a category of insurance.”

automobile insurance

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As a result, the automobile insurance category is scared because GEICO and Progressive are on the airwaves constantly. Is it inevitable that only one brand promise (saves you money) that matters?  After all, Allstate, Nationwide and State Farm – with two of them being bigger players than GEICO or Progressive – are trying to build a position around “saves you money.” This is not the highest emotional intensity in the market. It is just that no one can get out of their own way. No one really understand the customer and, therefore, act out of desperation. Only a few get it.

images2One reason why the insurance market is so lost is because, for years, the players in the market have simply promised the minimum benefits in a category of insurance. Everyone believes that their insurance will be there when they need it or service them when they need it or they would not have chosen them in the first place. Those are not switching triggers. However, when that’s all your brand means, all that’s left for customers to choose is price.

As Sun Tzu once said, “Attack their weakness and emerge to their surprise.” Maybe someone will. After all, can any category survive when everyone owns lowest cost provider?

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