NEW YORK and LONDON; May 24, 2010 – Insurers plan to invest $84 million, on average, over the next three years to improve their multi-channel distribution strategies, according to findings of a global survey of 125 insurers by Accenture (NYSE:ACN).
The survey also indicates that insurers will shift investment priorities to mobile technologies, digital marketing, including social media such as Facebook, and channel integration over the next three years. While a limited number of insurers said their current investments are focused on creating mobile capabilities, improving digital marketing, and integrating channels (19 percent, 34 percent and 36 percent, respectively), a much higher percentage of insurers are planning or considering investments in these areas for the near future (62 percent, 49 percent and 44 percent, respectively).
“Increasing investment in mobile capabilities -- to take advantage of the growing use of smart phones -- and in digital marketing, to create new opportunities to influence customer choice, is necessary, but not sufficient in today’s environment,” said Serge Callet, global managing director of Accenture’s Insurance practice. “Consumers are not simply replacing one channel with another, but are diversifying and using more channels than ever for all of their needs. The challenge facing insurers is to develop a distribution strategy that capitalizes on the strengths of each respective channel and that will allow them to match the right customers with the right products and services, at the right price, through the right channels.”
According to the survey, insurers will increasingly tailor their marketing strategy to specific customer segments. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of insurers said they will customize their products, promotions, channels, services, and pricing strategies to specific customer segments in the next three years. The survey showed that only 14 percent of insurers currently tailor all of these activities by customer segment.
“Potential buyers of insurance are changing in numerous ways and their expectations of their providers are increasing steadily, as consumer-service leaders such as Amazon and Apple raise the bar for everyone,” said Michael Costonis, executive director of Accenture’s Insurance practice in North America. “Insurers are starting to realize that their products should be bought and not just sold. To do this they need to truly understand their customers, and to achieve a level of segmentation that is indispensable for moving from a product-centric to a solution-centric business model. The objective is to create a unique customer experience across all channels.”
Among the survey’s other findings:
- Nearly two-thirds of insurers (63 percent) do not consider their current distribution model as a source of competitive advantage.
- The emergence of new technologies was the most widely cited factor (85 percent) by insurers for making decisions to invest in distribution over the next three years, followed closely by changes in customer needs and attitudes (84 percent), new regulations (81 percent) and the increasing importance of advice in the distribution of insurance products (also 81 percent).
- Sixty-three percent of insurers said that all services -- including quoting, underwriting, billing, claims declaration and account management -- will be available online within the next three years; only 21 percent will have these services available on mobile devices within that time.
- Three out of four insurers (75 percent) said that developing relationships with “non-tied” channels (independent agents and brokers, and others) was a main priority, with nearly as many (73 percent) naming the development of specialized tools and sales support as a major focus.
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of insurers identified investment in training as a key priority for optimizing the performance of their captive sales force, with nearly as many (64 percent) identifying specialized tools and sales support, including information technology (IT), as their main priority.
- Aligning IT infrastructure with a defined distribution strategy was cited by 63 percent of insurers as a key challenge.
Accenture commissioned a survey of senior executives at 125 major insurance companies around the world – equally divided between life and property and casualty carriers – in 25 countries, to better understand insurers’ distribution strategies, their investment priorities, and the challenges they are facing in dealing with the development and integration of multi-channel distribution models.
The telephone survey was designed by Accenture and was conducted by Kadence Ltd. from December 2009 through April 2010. The 125 respondents included 44 from the Americas, of which 32 were from the United States, 7 from Canada, 4 from Brazil and 1 from Mexico; 47 from Europe, of which 14 were from France, 8 from the United Kingdom, 4 each from Italy and Sweden, 3 each from Germany and Switzerland, 2 each from Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Turkey, and 1 each in Norway, Russia, and Spain; 30 from Asia Pacific, of which 7 were in Japan, 6 in China, 5 in India, 4 each in Australia, Singapore and South Korea; and 4 from Africa.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 181,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its home page is www.accenture.com
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