There is a right way to conduct research to grow your market share and a wrong way. Unless you are asking the right questions, your research will fail.
You must go beyond theory and identify the emotional drivers of your target audience and use tough-minded strategies and positioning to steal market share from the competition.
Stealing Share has developed a unique process unlike any other brand company in the world that is designed with a single purpose, to steal market share.
When ProAssurance selected Stealing Share to work on its brand, we uncovered a category that was perceived to lack honesty and integrity. Through our qualitative and quantitative research, a core attribute became obvious: physicians are driven by emotion when selecting an insurance company, not by the worn-out tactics seen in the marketplace. The mainstay message of “aggressive defense” was no longer emotional, but simply the ante you must have to even play in the game.
Recognizing this, we created a unique position for ProAssurance. This was to align with physicians’ desire to be treated fairly by insurance companies because physicians deal with issues of fairness every day – and, therefore, are more highly sensitive to it when they aren’t treated fairly.
Looking at the vast landscape of insurance companies for consumers, it’s a challenge to find brands that recognize the emotional desires. The advertising is trite with themes that center on extremes and, more often than not, just the ante at the table. Nobody raises the stakes.
Campaigns are either over-the-top silly or deadly serious. All of them, though, are only about cost or protection, which are not switching triggers. You must already believe your current carrier has reasonable rates and good protection coverages to have picked it in the first place. You don’t switch for things you already believe what you have.
This case study will examine the marketing of the auto, health and homeowners insurance leaders. In particular, we will identify those campaigns that capitalize on the real emotional needs of the individual, and those that have fallen prey to meaninglessness.
Brandchannel reported that the “U.S. auto insurance brands spent $5.7 billion on marketing last year in the U.S., nearly double what they spent just five years earlier. But they're not getting as much bang for their buck as they did a couple of years ago.”
No kidding. It’s a difficult process to switch auto insurance companies and the carriers have not given consumers a reason to choose. It’s bad money spent, and a lot of it. That’s the reason why the market has barely moved despite all the advertising dollars.
Many of the market leaders in auto insurance, such as GEICO and Progressive, have only gained a tiny portion of market share through frequency of advertising and the promise of offering the cheapest insurance. Sadly, these companies have spent millions of dollars on campaigns that are strictly entertainment rather than unlocking the emotional triggers for choosing a brand. Entertainment can work if you have low awareness, but who doesn’t know GEICO or Progressive?
Still, each has come to standstill, both treading water without sign of improvement.
To quote Matt Damon from an episode of 30 Rock:
“Why does GEICO have three different spokesmen?” Damon asked the Tina Fey, the show’s leading lady.
Damon: “They have got the gecko, the caveman and the stack of money with the eyeballs.”
Fey: “And the fake Rod Serling guy.”
30 Rock has it right. What message is GEICO trying to convey to their audience?
Take this commercial for example:
The Gallagher references are simply not emotional and simply an inside joke for those who remember his act. Knowing that 15 minutes will save you money won’t get you to switch either, because all insurance companies say they will save you money.
Wrapping that message with humor doesn’t make it any more emotional. In fact, humor can often hide the message, even if it’s meaningful, because all viewers remember is the humor. Advertisers must tread lightly here and subtly goes a long way.
Something this spot could have used.
GEICO has become the king of bland messages within a fruitless search for market share. It tries all the various characters in its arsenal, but nothing has worked. The problem is that GEICO hasn’t realized what’s more important: Messages that are different and better than the competition (so it presents a true choice) and an emotional hook that makes consumers covet the brand.
Alas, GEICO is not alone.
Like GEICO, Progressive takes the advertising frequency and humor route and it hasn’t worked, either. Those at GEICO would not doubt point out that it uses so many characters to refresh the adverting because Progressive’s sole character, Flo, is wearing out her welcome.
But it doesn’t matter. Because even Progressive has become GEICO-lite with the same message about cost in some sort of humor blanket.
Health Pro recently reported that: “Progressive has Flo. She is ... not great at explaining why people might need insurance, but she is great at conveying the message that Progressive has the flexibility to meet customers' needs. My 9-year-old daughter looks for Flo commercials the way she looks for new episodes of iCarly. There might be some consumers who will have a warm place in their heart for Progressive in the 2070s, or even the 2100s, thanks to Flo.”
Now that’s a ringing endorsement. What is it that Health Pro is remembering? The character or what Flo represents that serves as a self reflection of the consumer. (Or, in this case, the self-reflection of a 9-year-old.)
Progressive does have its own unique look - the stark white - and there would be no mistaking the ads for anyone else’s. The problem is that, like GEICO, they are a representation of an ad agency gone amok. What has been forgotten is how to steal market share, not raise awareness that it already has or simply entertain us to win advertising awards.
To quote Autoinsurance.com, “Allstate [has] been stuck with the task of shaking the perception of being ‘expensive and serious.’ Allstate has tried to overcome this notion by launching its ‘Mayhem’ advertising campaign in May 2010 and by beefing up its marketing budget by more than half between 2009 and 2010.”
It was because of this perception, if true, that GEICO and Progressive decided to capitalize by focusing on price. The problem was that they oversaturated the market so the message doesn’t register and they took a route that wasn’t emotional.
Allstate, recognizing that fighting on a price is a loser’s game, went the protection route.
There are a few problems here. While edgy and unique, the emotional fear that “protection against mayhem” may plays on is again couched as humor. That means it’s not really fear. It becomes a skit about someone else.
The results have not been kind to Allstate. Its CEO recently resigned and its property-liability insurance premiums have been flat, although that’s not overly unique in this market.
Earlier attempts at the protection theme have demonstrated that even outside the confines of edgy and funny, it is a non-emotional message and one that is the definition of an insurance company, not a reason to choose.
To continue to part 2 click HERE