How well insurers know their customers can be a significant factor in how they respond to current opportunities and how well they position themselves for the future. The transformation in consumer behavior is a critical, but often overlooked source of growth.

Understanding consumer changes

Accenture’s research has found that seven in 10 executives believe they don’t fully understand changing behavior. These changes can be complex and contradictory.

  • Many consumers have become highly networked. Their digital devices are always on, and they are never far from a purchasing channel. They interact intensively with friends and also service providers, through a variety of social media, and they are becoming increasing co-productive: providing input into the design and production of the products and services they consume.
  • At the same time, many are asserting their independence. They spend on tailored offerings that express their individuality. They want more than the digital world can give them, and seek new, real-life experiences.
  • Some even prefer to disconnect. They distance themselves periodically from the presence of digital media and devices, and are willing to spend to do so. They often seek products and services that recapture a slower, more personalized way of doing business.

Going for growth

Changing customer behavior represents growth opportunities for high-performance insurers A staggering eight in 10 executives we surveyed believe their companies aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunities these and other changes in customer behavior present. Insurers that in the past focused on the “where” and “who” of selling, should also pay attention to the ways in which, and the reasons why, consumers buy.

Crude segmentation that divides the target market into a few basic age and gender groups may have been adequate in the past, but it will not enable insurers to deliver the tailored experiences which consumers expect today. Digital enablement and attitudinal changes have altered the “how” and “why” people buy, resulting in a new consumer paradigm. As part of the Accenture research, we identified 10 dimensions of behavior change that characterize the transforming consumer, and we analyzed the responses to determine which behavior shifts are cross-correlated. To read about the findings of our research, and the different dimensions of behavior change that were identified, download the report.

Among the companies we surveyed, the fast growers (those whose revenues increased by six percent or more in 2012) are more likely to see opportunity in consumer behavior change than the slow growers. They are also more likely to be investing in it: 79 percent have increased investment in consumer-facing activities in the last three years, compared with only 54 percent of slow growers.

High-performance insurers not only understand these changes, but continually adapt their products, services, marketing and distribution to maintain their relevance as their customers evolve.

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