New codes of communication

Insurance Daily | June 2020  

How much do you love your mother? How much do you love your mummy? Same question, different answers, as shown by a study conducted on a sample of Italian people at the University of Milano-Bicocca.   

Being an insurance agent is hard, particularly if insurance companies do not launch communication campaigns to raise awareness on the general public and companies.  

The insurance market is driven by supply. Communication is key: agents, just like marines, need covering fire from the air force (i.e. insurance companies).  

Years ago, a well-known insurance company launched a communication campaign. Through a series of cartoons, the campaign showed some of the damages that may result from accidents (such as home damages) in order to raise awareness on limited insurance coverage. The campaign turned out to be successful! 

Today, campaigns focus on the pandemic, just in case anyone had forgotten about it. Of course, we can always count on insurance companies.  

Just a few years ago, one of the most notable insurance companies used to speak of the future, of projects, lifestyles, home and family safety.  

There used to be product campaigns, institutional campaigns, campaigns aimed at either strengthening the agents’ esprit de corps or recruiting new ones. But what will be the most effective communication strategy of the future? 

One cannot speak of the communication codes of the future without bearing in mind two key concepts: vulnerability and cognitive psychology.  

Vulnerability is an important factor, recalling the idea of solidarity. People are often led to believe that protection is equivalent to invincibility and invulnerability. Actually, at the core of mankind is proximity, generated and fed by vulnerability, better still when shared.   

Resilience or the capacity to absorb an impact indicates, in Physics, the ability of a material to withstand impacts without breaking; in Sociology, it denotes the ability to absorb the negative or traumatic consequences of an external event simply through reorganization.  

Psychological resilience – understood as the ability to cope with adversity – cannot be overlooked within the context of protection.  

Vulnerability, or lack of resilience, is the exact opposite. Therefore, working on decoding vulnerability and finding solutions aimed at increasing resilience is or should be the new mantra of every good insurer. 

Cognitive psychology was born towards the end of the 50s as a critique to Behaviorism, which started from the assumption that only the outer behavior of the individual may be scientifically investigated.  

On the other hand, Cognitivism focuses on cognition (perception, attention, memory, language, thought, creativity), either disregarded or considered as a mere learning outcome by behaviorists.  

Cognitive psychology focuses on the mental processes whereby information is acquired, elaborated, memorized and retrieved by the cognitive system. 

This translates into three main considerations: 1) observing human behavior is necessary but not enough to take advantage of the opportunities of the market; 2) human beings act on the basis of memories and stimuli which often do not coincide with reality; 3) anticipating needs of others is an activity that requires method and discipline. 

Today more than ever, Italian people are very much concerned with protection and their spontaneous demand needs to be capitalized: in May, 27% of Italians claimed to be willing to contact an insurer over the following days (they used to be 12% in January). 

Giving clients what they ask for is relatively easy; offering them what they need is something entirely different, beginning with communication.