As insurers, we are no strangers to running into price sensitivity, then copying the competition and buying business. When we still fail, we blame the economy. But the truth is that the complexity of our products, the lack of differentiation in our services and the distance we’ve kept from our consumers is what results in price sensitivity. This, in turn, results in our need to buy business by encouraging intermediaries and discounting premiums — which then results in copying each other for validation of our assumptions, even when we take calculated risks because we care about our commitment to the market and our responsibility to consumers.
What a vicious circle we’ve created for ourselves.
Being a student of this industry, my observation is that we are running out of ways to get ourselves out of this mess. Trying new ideas means having to deal with channel conflict and spending time and energy appeasing intermediaries to ensure our promise to pay.
So I decided we should create niches and build new experiences for these niches that will challenge established norms with very little disruption to business as usual. Having pets all my life before moving to Singapore as an expat, I found it strange that the number of pets in Singapore was on the rise but that there was no insurance for pets (other than the meager endorsement to home and contents policies for third-party liability mandated by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) for dog licenses). The fact is that some insurers tried writing pet insurance many years ago but made losses and took the product off their shelves. Singapore is a financial capital, mind you, that commands the presence of all the major global insurers and banks.
See also: Industry Trends for 2017
I was determined to make a difference and continued to persuade the head of personal insurance (a passionate leader who has earned my respect and appreciation) to consider pet insurance. Our propensity to act created momentum for others and engaged talent at all levels — soon, we had every pet lover and pet owner in the organization offering to help and test ideas. Thus, PetCare, Singapore’s first comprehensive pet insurance coverage, was born. This caught the attention of the media and pet forums; suddenly everyone was talking about us. We started with insurance for dogs, taking every aspect of their life into account. We had to minimize our exposure to begin with and had to learn from our experience in the market. But, soon enough, cat owners wanted the same treatment. So we included cats and increased our benefit offering in a year’s time. Two years into the market, we became the experts and had other insurers copying us in a rapid frenzy and fear of missing out. The time had come to brand and market PetCare at scale. I wanted to create the Apple of insurance and the Uber of service.
Then, I came across this video. Check it out…
MasterFoods asked Aussie families one simple question: “If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?” What they uncovered surprised everyone.
We humans know when we are being sold to, and we recognize the passion and care of brands that are trying to do things for the greater good. At PetCare, we now had a business that was close to our hearts and those of our consumers, and we were on a journey to build a strong emotional connection with them through compelling experiences.
In our efforts, we have not only created a business but found a much more powerful way to connect —one that differentiates us from the competition and makes us market leaders in our own right.