Insurance and communication

Being at the core of all fields of activities, communication has become the winning horse of all commercial and marketing strategies. Advertising has progressively developed from the traditional commercial message boasting items' qualities towards the communication of an image-based brand.

Insurance: a sector in search for readability

Insurance: a traditionally negative connotation

Used with permission from MicrosoftInsurance is commonly associated with images of complexity, austerity and opaqueness, and its subject matter has got a negative connotation as it refers to life hazards.

In addition, the mandatory aspect of insurance does not make it more appealing, either. The offer inflexibility and stiffness, the lack of contract readability and the system's inadequacy to new consumer ways are further motives that fuel mistrust among the already dissatisfied customers.


Bound by globalization, the recent evolution of the insurance industry has been characterized by numerous mergers, acquisitions and alliances. This mutation has been translated by changes affecting denomination, size, objectives, and organization, and by the emergence of new players.
These upheavals have led to certain confusion which is, in turn, causing a misunderstanding of the sector.

Image deficit

The lack of references and information on the new comers' identity and the dissemination of the offer on a market that is submitted to fierce competition have only plunged the sector into further turmoil.
The multitude of actors and their various speeches has given rise to a saturation effect and to a kind of weariness that have damaged the credibility of the sector as a whole.

The need to communicate

The combination of complexity, opaqueness, confusion and image deficit justify the urgent need of insurance companies to acquire more readability. The current craze for advertising by insurers is accounted for by their attempt to distance themselves from competitors by affirming a strong identity and a more attractive message. The spirit of competition has incited companies to engage in a race to polish their image.

This renewed interest dates back to the 1990s, a period of crisis that has been turned to good account in order to stimulate recovery measures for a struggling sector.

Communication stakes and scopes

In order to improve the business visibility and reduce the divide between the public knowledge of the sector and its understanding of it, corporate communication campaigns have targeted the following areas:

Image elaboration

The company's trademark is built upon concrete elements (products, services) as well as upon non-material notions such as the image and the values to which the company remains attached. The strength or the value of the trademark is defined according to notoriety and to the penetration rate in terms of purchases.

Institutional communication aims at polishing the image, generating fame, promoting key values and at improving attractiveness among the wider public, which constitutes a potential customer reserve.

Sales stimulation

Used with permission from Microsoft Whatever the fashion, the device and the target pursued by the communication company, the primary objective of the investment consists in generating traffic, prompting purchase reflexes among clients, and to gain their loyalty by establishing a relationship of trust. The purpose is to create a coherent link between the message and the concrete evidence of the proclaimed efficiency.

However, surveys, investigations and other evaluation tools of the impact of advertising campaigns have shown that a widespread notoriety does not necessarily reflect a good trademark image. However offensive advertising can be, it does not rhyme with immediate commercial efficiency.

It is true that advertising helps create a flow, publicize a trademark, raise public awareness to its message and values; it cannot have the power to trigger sales. Differentiation is also done on the basis of other criteria: proximity, products offers and network, which are, indeed, the driving force of sales operations.

For the company, the major stake consists in achieving adequacy of the whole commercial apparatus with the image it broadcast, and in consolidating its positioning through specific offers.

Communication means and aids

The advertising campaign constitutes advertising's heavy artillery; its use relies on a multimedia plan that consists in defining a strategy, orchestrating a campaign, selecting targets, and reaching the widest audience in order to conquer new market shares.

The shock instrument of the campaign is the clip, the tool that bears the announcer's values through a slogan (message) that must hit the target. The move is said to be successful when the announcer manages to conquer a communication territory of its own that distinguishes him or her from other competitors. But such a result can only be proved on a long-term basis.

Relying mainly on television, the advertising campaign is equally supported by other media: radio, national and regional daily written newspapers, magazines, specialized press, posting, publications, internet.

Each of the used aids is designed to assume a specific action: to decline a brand or the products, to put forward a positioning, to support action, to optimize impact, to consolidate notoriety, to refine image, to aim at new targets.

Patronage, sponsoring and advertising sponsorship are the indirect ways of communication that offer vectors of promotion to the company through the funding of an event or a foundation of artistic, cultural, humanitarian, scientific, ecological or intellectual nature. Evaluated in terms of notoriety and image-improved value, the fallout of such an investment is dependent upon media coverage and upon the success of the event.

Consumer magazines; Communication strategies also make great use of other conventional aids such as consumer magazines whose objective is to build a personalized link with customers. Their huge circulation volumes make them an efficient tool that can optimize targeting and customer loyalty techniques.

Cost and evaluation of the impact of advertising campaigns

Main communication topics for European insurers
  • Retirement saving
  • Motor first item for overall investment
  • Health and funeral insurances
  • Institutional campaign

Multimedia advertising campaigns require big budgets. For instance, the broadcasting by a generalist channel of a thirty-second clip at peak viewing time in Europe costs between 50 000 and 80 000 euros.

For television, post tests make it possible to gauge recognition, spontaneous notoriety and the agreement rates achieved by a clip.

However, and in spite of its strong presence on television screens, surveys have demonstrated that the insurance sector in Europe remains a minor actor in advertising compared to the banking sector, which invests more important sums in communication.

The new aids

Used with permission from Microsoft

E-marketing: Thanks to its reactivity and its planet wide scale, the internet has proved to be a particularly beneficial aid for advertising campaigns and as a generator of efficient activities. Its impact is instantly quantifiable thanks to the meter system that records the number of connections.

E-marketing user manual: the web offers a multiform advertising ground: banners, publicity strips, sponsoring as well as a wide range of broadcasts.

  • Pay referencing: It consists in purchasing in an auction some key words on the search engines which are sent back on the home page or from the announcer's products. Experts estimate that the critical mass for an internet-based publicity campaign amounts to 20 000 clicks.
  • Partnership among sites : It consists in purchasing contextualized links in relation with the home page content.

The purchase of volumes of advertising space is calculated on the basis of a standard: Cost per mile (CPM), which corresponds to a thousand banners: The CPM of the traditional banner costs between 45 and 55 euros before delivery on portals.

Already widely-used in the U.S.A with 6.5 billion USD, that is, 5.1% of their overall advertising budget in 2003, the internet aid is only at its first stage in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Compared to other sectors of the activity, insurance is positioned against the run of the trend: whenever an insurer spends 1euro on online adverts, his or her counterpart in the banking sector spends 4 to 9 euros.

E-mailing: Electronic mail enables the announcer to send commercial messages, brochures, clips and newsletters directly, but this aid requires the setting up of a high-volume database. Online lottery games and competitions make it possible to achieve customer loyalty and to develop databases.

Used with permission from MicrosoftSMS (Short Message Service): Sending a personalized commercial message over a mobile phone proved to be an intrusive but efficient means result wise, with a double disadvantage pertaining to sending cost and to the tool's characteristic. It is handled mostly by youngsters.

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