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New consumption patterns of consumers to construct micro-markets and hyper-segmentation- Anup Rau, MD & CEO, Future Generali India Insurance
The insurance sector did go through its fair share of ups & downs during the pandemic. But, with its consistent efforts, it sailed smooth and is now at an advantageous position.
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COVID-19 has resulted in companies to innovate and transform like never before - be it in product front, distribution channel front or operations front. Amidst this, Future Generali India Insurance (FGII) emerged as one of the strongest players in the health retail space. The company came up with innovative solutions like E-Proposal forms, video-based claim settlements, web and mobile app policy servicing tools to neutralize the effect of lockdown to some extent.
It was indeed interesting to witness how the Insurance sector at large, one of the key contributors to our GDP, managed to keep itself afloat during these testing times. In fact, companies like FGII came up with worthwhile strategies to carry out a smooth sail of their operations.
In an interview with Anup Rau, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Future Generali India Insurance, a doyen in the insurance industry, he talks about how the last six months treated him. “I was the busiest in making our employees and consumers realise that the pandemic is here to stay. It is important that we confront the reality, no matter how unpleasant it is.
Adaptability and flexibility is the key. Traditional companies adapt better than modern ones (tech savvy) in that sense,” he believes.
As a natural consequence, the pandemic resulted in greater recognition for better health and hygiene. That has in-turn led to an appreciable need for health insurance. On being asked about how the sector performed in the past six months, Rau shares, “Since the outbreak of COVID, the industry (both life and general) has shrunk in the short-term. However, in the long-term, there will be greater appreciation for the sector. People would want to avoid risk by paying a small premium.
Personally, I would like people to not have a narrow view on this, as they are only looking at COVID as a situation. I want people to look at health from a holistic point of view and a comprehensive cover.”
The insurance market is also witnessing some irreversible changes, both in terms of consumer behavior and business realities, that have formed because of the new normal. Rau opines here, “The demand against good and services will remain the same. However, the way we consume it will change. This will further lead to a lot of micro-markets and hyper-segmentation.
So, there will be consodidation as far as providers of good and services is concerned but their will be hyper-personalisation on the other hand, for customers.”
The pandemic is a double whammy for most businesses. They had to stand strong on the employee front, as well as the consumer front. Considering the nature of business of an insurance company, selling themselves digitally posed a challenge in the initial days. With people accustomed to face-to-face interactions, digital interactions remained a significant challenge for consumers and employees alike. Rau explains here, “When we talk of technology, it has to cheap, scalable, functional and replicable. Our very first attempt was to change the behavior, make people understand that the pandemic is here for long and convince them to use our digital services.
On our company front, we ensured our employees that it is possible to sell digitally, that there is no fundamental difference between the two.
Next, we ensured that our marketing bunch targeted our customers, distributors and employees with equal intensity. For distributors, we made sure they all were insured. For customers, we did a lot of digital activity to promote our brand. For emplyees, we did a lot of communication (internal marketing), initiated Employee Assistance Programes, organised yoga & meditation sessions, etc.”
In an intresting move by FGII, the company also looks forward to collaborating with the new fintech companies for ease of buying. Rau explains, “We want to learn from them as they cater to a different demographic. They know how to get the younger customers on board.
For us, it is about partnership to get volume, to learn & understand and add value to them, to make them understand how to run a business in the long run. Hence, it is complimentary to both parties.”
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that innovation is the only mantra to tackle this extraordinary situation. It is important for the insurance industries to gain cognisance of the distinct needs of the consumers and cater to them with relevant products and services. Rau describes some of the top trends that would rule the post-COVID scenario. He predicts, “A lot of other categories will open up like SMEs, mom and pop shops, barber shops, etc., because the appetite for people to face these risks will go down. Second, health has a lot of panic-buying surrounding it. People are doing and will continue to do an internal audit to keep themselves safe. Third, products for insurance against cyber crime, job loss, etc. would be next in demand. Last, we will observe greater fragmentation as greater individuality will emerge”
A crisis does bring along a bunch of opportunities too. It is upon the companies how well they receive the change, reinvent themselves and prove efficient. Insurance industry, in this respect, has managed to bring strategic solutions on the table and develop alternatives. Its efforts are definitely laud-worthy!