Carriers are continuing to expand and grow their marketing efforts, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group’s most recent Spotlight™ Report, Marketing Practices of Voluntary Carriers. The study found that when carriers were asked to name their primary external customer for their voluntary marketing efforts, most listed all three customer groups: brokers, employers and employees.
It also found that most carriers have marketing communications, advertising, digital marketing, brand management, market research, competitive intelligence and customer experience staff under their marketing umbrella. In addition to their own staff, many carriers outsource tasks such as creative services and market research projects and support.
The Employee Life Stage Segmentation—MarketVision™—The Employee Viewpoint© 2018 report uses the data gathered during the 2017 employee survey to look more closely at how employee ownership and attitudes towards employee benefits, including voluntary products, vary by life stage. Specifically, the report looks at the data using six life stage categories including Lower to Middle Income Singles, Lower to Middle Income Couples, Higher Income Singles and Couples, Lower Income Single Parent Families, Lower to Middle Income Families and Middle to Higher Income Families.
WHAT ARE THE ATTRIBUTES of a good voluntary beneﬁt? The industry has historically sorted out would-be new entrants before many producers knew they existed. Various elements could be debated, but there are at least two components common to most successful products: beneﬁt strategy relevance and program mechanics.
EASTBRIDGE’S 2017 Voluntary Participation Rates Spotlight™ report found that just over half of participating carriers have seen participation rates increase over the past two to three years, and the majority expect this trend to continue. While individual carrier responses varied, the overall reported average was 28 percent in 2017, up from 21 percent in 2014.
FOR TWO DECADES, industry voluntary sales increased year after year. Growth was largely driven by new brokers entering the business, primarily from the ranks of the traditional medical and group brokers. But these new entrants did not begin growing their sales and increasing productioneach year as one might expect. Instead, they sold a few cases each year, with results changing only slightly from year-to-year.
MORE COMPANIES are turning to the insights data analytics can provide to their business— and voluntary benefit manufacturers are no exception. A recent Eastbridge survey on the topic revealed that 50 percent of carriers are currently using data analytics for at least some piece of their voluntary business. Another 20 percent are planning to implement analytics in the near future. These carriers are looking to use this data to help them better understand customer needs, increase persistency and provide better customer service.
AS A GROUP, voluntary brokers and executives have historically overreacted to industry developments. Some of these developments promised great benefits through chasing a new trend, while others warned of doom based on a new threat.