How marketing is key in consumer decision-making, simplifying choices & building trust
Guest Column: Sapna Desai, Chief Marketing Officer, ManipalCigna Health Insurance, writes people who have a good customer experience with a brand are more likely to stick
In today's world, customers are often left spoilt for choice, given the numerous options of products and services that are available today. Brands are in a constant battle to stay relevant and at the forefront of their consumer's purchase decisions. Seemingly, the best way to do this is through partnering in customer journey, reimagining marketing strategies, and creating an outside-in organization that drives customer value.
Marketing has evolved from a simple game of shouting out loud about a brand's presence, to a more complicated process where consumers expect brands to know and understand them, instead of the other way round. Traditional marketing focused on the masses and was previously a more linear approach, while today it's all about each consumer's unique experience through several omnichannel mediums. People who have a good customer experience with a brand are more likely to stick, and that is why it is safe to say that purpose-driven marketing is a pivotal part of a consumer's decision-making process.
The Best Play: Digital Infusion in Marketing
Considering that we're on the threshold of the digital era, today consumers are constantly connected and are spending more time on digital channels. Thus, data-driven marketing, sophisticated lead generation tactics, social media marketing and digital marketing are most definitely in the spotlight.
Consumers are also regularly reading online reviews, while a staggering number of people trust and rely on these reviews. No doubt this goes on to say that capitalizing on the latest trends via digital and social media marketing can make brands stand out among their peers. A new crop of marketing advocates called influencers are further driving the consumer's purchase decisions by creating awareness and giving reviews about the products and services that consumers want to buy. Now, more than ever, it is becoming increasingly important to incorporate as many marketing tactics for a brand to stay afloat. The writing on the wall has never been clearer: marketing and advertising are key enablers for attracting customers, fuelling the revenue engine of companies, bringing business alignment and competitive advantage, improving brand awareness, establishing trust, and handholding people in their decision-making process.
Service Marketing in Health Insurance: The Key To Thrive
Healthcare businesses thrive on providing services, not products. Thus, building patient loyalty at every stage of the journey, making the experience part of the brand to establish trust, identifying changing patient needs, and staying ahead of emerging market opportunities are critical to every healthcare business, and the same holds in the health insurance landscape as well. In recent years, health insurance has rapidly gained momentum, but there is a catch: customers are evolving rapidly as well. Today's health insurance customers are unlike the ones from yesteryears: they now want to buy health insurance but they are simply saying first know me, help me and make it easier for me to engage with the healthcare ecosystem. They also want more customized products, and a direct-to-consumer experience, coupled with a digital-first healthcare experience and ease of use. And most importantly, they rely on trust. Today's consumers base their trust on how the brand has positioned itself and what people are saying about it — in other words, they are most likely to trust a brand that is committed to responsible, purpose-driven and socially relevant marketing. In the light of this, marketers are focusing on driving consideration and pull by giving consumers a strong reason to choose their brand over other alternatives, as opposed to "push" marketing strategies. In the latter, brands essentially push their products and services toward their target audience. With pull marketing, on the other hand, the goal is to draw consumers to your product or service. To amp up an effective pull marketing effort, marketers leverage word-of-mouth, brand awareness, reviews, and influencer marketing, to name a few.
The idea of implementing a pull-based marketing strategy in health insurance happens to be the right way forward, given that a large part of the Indian demographic, particularly youngsters are making efforts to understand the importance of health insurance. The demand for good health insurance shot up after Covid. But the pandemic is not the only driving force behind the awareness of health insurance in India. Crowd-pulling events such as cricket leagues and brand ambassadors are also playing a part in driving the country's health insurance sector. Many insurance companies are engaging celebrities to build brand stature, differentiation, credibility and gain consumer mind space. Additionally, health insurance brands are taking note of the consumer's evolving healthcare requirements, and customizing their product and service offerings accordingly.
The transition to a more digital world has made it possible for brands to reach those far and near, across Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities as well. For health insurance to thrive through marketing efforts, the needs of various demographics must be addressed as well. For instance, the millennials and Gen Z are warming up to health coverage. The search for health insurance in India has grown by 35-40% in the last 2 years. Hence, marketing and communication efforts directed to awareness should be prioritized e.g. memes, gifs, videos and emoticons are the preferred way to communicate.
The Bottom Line
For marketing efforts to positively influence decision-making, establish trust, and simplify choices, it is imperative to prioritize consumer needs and requirements. And to do that, brands will have to adopt a more omnichannel marketing strategy that covers all bases, be it video, display, social media, mobile, or email marketing. Further, marketers need to start imbibing new-age marketing approaches and technology-driven operations to drive awareness, acquire new consumers, and encourage customer engagement. Lastly, brands need to turn to pull marketing rather than push marketing and listen to what consumers are asking for in a good health insurance plan. Today consumers prefer to buy health insurance online. This indicates the power of online and digital marketing, especially in a world where most of us spend a considerable amount of time online.
The rules of the game have changed: people already know that health insurance is a necessity and consumers will choose companies that will strike a balance between brand trust, affordability, innovation, and relationship. With the right marketing efforts in place, the brand can position itself as an industry expert, and in time, perhaps, one of the most trusted players in the field.
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