Why is Aviva Life Insurance focusing so much on Sachin Tendulkar the parent in its latest advertising campaign? “We are probably the only company showing Sachin as a parent in all our brand campaigns, and not as a cricketer,” says Gaurav Rajput, Director, Marketing, Aviva India.
For that matter, why is Max New York Life spending so much time, energy and money on creating interactive platforms on social media and YouTube for parents, where they can blog, tweet, upload videos and chat with each other? And why is ICICI Prudential Life Insurance going all out to forge father-child relationships across the country, organising contests where dad and kid can participate and win prizes?
Well, simply because insurers view “the child space” as the hottest point of connect with their customers. With market research results showing a growing shift in why Indians buy insurance, insurers are raising the advertising and marketing decibel level around parents and children.
They are also promoting educational initiatives in a big way. If Aviva has a Young Scholar Hunt and sponsors a Young Scholar Bookaroo, Max New York Life claims to have spent Rs 2 crore on scholarships for 4,000 children.
The shifting umbrella
In 2004, when private insurer Max New York Life first tracked the question of why people buy insurance, it found that protection of family was the number one reason. Ninety-two per cent of the policy holders it surveyed had bought policies for that reason; security placed second with 81 per cent of the respondents; saving tax was the third most compelling reason with 73 per cent of the sample.
By 2010, when it conducted the survey again, people's reasons for buying insurance had undergone a sea change. Protection of family as a reason had lost 12 percentage points; the second most important reason people shopped for insurance was to accumulate a lump sum for their child's future — a whopping 69 per cent policy holders had bought insurance to meet the educational needs of their children.
Aviva Life Insurance, which claims to be the first in India to have launched a child strategy, corroborates this finding.
Gaurav Rajput of Aviva describes how, in a survey of 2,250 people conducted by Aviva in 2009 across 10 big cities, 67 per cent mentioned that planning for a child's future took priority over retirement and protection. It found that 50 per cent of parents begin to invest before the child turned three years old.
The numbers were enough to make Aviva change tack and go after the child space. “Till two years ago, no one spoke about child plans or the child space but now we believe that we have created a category called the ‘Child Space',” boasts Rajput.
In just two years, Aviva's game plan seems to have paid off. While there are no industry figures, as ‘child space' is not yet reported as a category by the insurance regulator, the contribution of child plans in Aviva's portfolio alone has increased from 2 per cent in 2008-09 to 12 per cent in 2010-11, says Rajput.
Others insurers such as Max New York Life, HDFC Life and ICICI also report similar growth in the child space. “Within a year of launching, Child Plans became a significant business contributor as compared to a pure savings portfolio - and has been a significant contributor to all companies' toplines since then,” says Sanjay Tripathy, EVP and Head, Marketing and Direct Channels, HDFC Life.
Click here to know about LIC Child Plan
Easier to build a connect
Most insurers point out how marketing financial products is a tricky proposition. There are a tough set of rules and regulations. Then there are sensitivities. Protection, tax savings and retirement planning are all planks that insurance marketers have tried out, but say have not yielded as strong an emotional connect as the child space.
As Madhivanan Balakrishnan, Executive Director, ICICI, Prudential Life, says, “The child's education is a very emotive and strongly felt need and allows insurers to offer a differentiated solution as opposed to a generic tax savings solution. This combination of “strongly felt need” and “differentiated solution” has led to a situation where insurance marketers are focusing on child education plans.”
Balakrishnan believes there is more comprehension of and better likeability for a brand when advertising is done with emotional connect.
HDFC Life's Sanjay Tripathy agrees. “Of all the consumer needs that we know of, saving for the child scores over everything else. It's a highly universal and emotional need, transcending all SEC class barriers. Even more so in the Indian context, where a child's requirements are placed before anything else,” he says.
A look at some of the numbers shows how the child space is already netting the insurers a bigger base to talk with.
nmMax New York Life's Chief Marketing Officer Anisha Motwani says that its iGenius platform (a parent-child nurture forum and relationship tool it launched in 2010) on various social media networks has already got 1 lakh members. She says 10,000 parents are already blogging on ‘Khushiyon Ka Planning', a brand new space created in July for parents to discuss a child's well-being.
Aviva, whose tag line these days is ‘Education is Insurance', managed to create a huge customer connect with its book drive. In 2009, it created a Great Wall of Education (98 feet long, 5 feet high and 6 feet wide) using books donated by thousands of citizens. Over 1.23 lakh books were collected. Today, Rajput says, from a single city event, it has become a national event and over 9.5 lakh books have been collected. “The entire initiative succeeded in Aviva being seen as human by customers,” he says.
In addition, Rajput says micro-marketing templates such as Colour My Dreams helped the insurer reach out to close to 1.75 lakh kids and, subsequently, their parents.
Leaving no stone unturned
Apart from promotions, contests, initiatives such as the Great Wall, and relentless advertising on TV, insurance marketers are now finding ever newer and innovative ways to connect with parents and children.
The school is an obvious starting point. Max New York Life is tying up with schools, being there during parent-teacher meetings. Ditto Aviva.
Both are educating their agents to get better acquainted with this parental need and have the skills to answer their questions.
Aviva, for instance, recently launched Child Future Planning Experts (CFPE). “Over 10 per cent of Aviva's sales force will get training as CFPEs in 2011, with a defined objective to increase their productivity by 40 per cent,” says Rajput. He says in the pilot itself, the 300-odd advisers trained as CFPE have recorded a growth of 78 per cent in business generated by them.
For Max New York Life, iGenius is an important initiative. “It's a tactical engagement tool with parents,” says Motwani.
Given that two-thirds of India's population of 1.1 billion is under 35 years of age, child plans spell big opportunity for insurers. The umbrella is, thus, going to tilt more and more towards a younger audience.
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