How to Sell Insurance to Millennials (7 Tactics for the Next Ten Years)

by | Sep 27, 2016

We must figure out how to sell insurance to Millennials.

millennials-population-sizeWhy?

Because the Millennial consumer mindset will dictate the insurance customer experience for at least the next three decades.

According to Pew Research, in 2015 Millennials became the largest generation in history at 75.4M, surpassing the Baby Boomers at 74.9M. Generation X, the generation between the Millennials and Baby Boomers won’t surpass the Baby Boomers till approximately 2028.

Moving forward, the Millennials, who now have members in their mid-thirties, will dominate consumer mindset.

Why?

As Millennials hit the prime spending years of their life, Baby Boomers are retiring (or reducing their work life) and settling into a downsized lifestyle.

According to Sarbjit Nahal, head of Thematic Investing at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the Millennials will have an estimated $8 Trillion in spending power by 2025 (CNBC Interview).

As this capital is used to purchase assets and property, someone is going to have to insure it.

The argument set out in this article explains how independent insurance agents position their business to capture the maximum opportunity Millennials present in the marketplace.

What is a Millennial?

The Millennial generation was born between 1980 and the end of 1994.

The term “Millennial” was coined by author Neil Howe and and the late William Strauss, in their mid-90s book, titled Millennials Rising, which was published in 2000.

However, a recent study from Pew Research found that only 40 percent of millennials even identify with the word “Millennial,” unlike the nearly 80 percent of Baby Boomers.

So, what is a Millennial?

They’re just people, who grew up markedly different economic, political, and technological times than previous generations.

millennials selfie

Millennials are different… but how?

To pretend that that Millennial generation is not different and thus inclined to it’s own unique buying philosophy would be naive.

Two major economic declines and an almost exponential growth in widespread adoption of technology have had a drastic impact on Millennials.

Take for instance, the number of stay-at-home fathers in the United States has tripled in the past 10 years up to 154,000, according to the most recent Census (although not all by choice with the recession).

Work-life balance is of the highest priority to Millennials, according the US Chamber of Commerce:

“Gen Xers tried to achieve work-life balance;  Millennials demand it.”

Millennials are also seen as “Super Savers.” Some 70% of Millennials started saving for retirement at an unprecedented young age, just 22, a recent survey found. By contrast, the average Boomer began saving at age 35, while Gen Xers got started at 27.

Here are 5 more ways in which the Millennial generation sets itself apart:

millennial-mindset-marriage1) Millennials are getting married later in life.

Pew Research found that just 26% of Millennials are married.

When previous generations were the age that Millennials are now, 36% of Gen Xers, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation were married.

Most unmarried Millennials (69%) say they would like to marry, but lack the solid economic foundation required for marriage.

IMPACT: Delaying marriage pushes back the “Settling Down” phase of life and subsequently the purchase of classic assets such a house, cars, boats, etc.

2) Millennials are more educated and ultimately more in debt.

In 2015, 1 in 4 Millennials had acquired a Bachelors Degree.

This leads to

Between 2004 and 2014, there was an 89 percent increase in the number of student borrowers, and the average balance per borrower grew by 77 percent.

59 percent of Millennials worry about paying back their student loans.

43 percent of Millennials believe that student debt has limited career options. (source)

According The Atlantic, seven years after the Great Recession, about half of young college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 are said to be “underemployed”—working in a job that hasn’t historically required a college degree.

3) Millennials are true digital natives.

A digital native is someone who was raised in a digital, media-saturated world.

According to Nielsen there are three widespread misconceptions about Millennials and the digital native lifestyle:

  • MYTH 1: “Digital natives possess inferior social skills or are more likely to avoid personal interaction in favor of digital interaction.”
  • MYTH 2: “Digital natives are much better at multitasking than digital immigrants.”
  • MYTH 3: “Digital natives have natural instincts about how to use or fix computers and other digital products.”

Nielsen’s position is that all three of these myths are false.

However, Millennial’s early experiences with digital technology have shaped their behavior and viewpoint on the products they use.

Most notably, Millennials are quick to adopt new digital activities and technology. Despite a willingness to adopt early stage technology, Millennials tend to be incredibly judgemental of products and services with lackluster user and/or customer experiences.

According to the US Chamber of Commerce findings, Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology than older generations and more likely than the others to use the Internet, broadcast thoughts, and contribute content to digital platforms.

IMPACT: Millennials trust technology, but demand a higher quality customer experience from the products and services they use.

4) Millennials are more racially diverse.

Over 15% of US citizens, age 20-34, born in a foreign country, marking the highest percentage since the great immigration wave of 1910 (source).

Generally speaking, Millennials have grown up in more multi-communities than previous generations.

IMPACT: Millennials want to work with someone who understands and is respectful of cultural differences and preferences.

millennial generation diversity

5) Millennials are buying homes later in life.

One of the slang descriptions of Millennials is the “Boomerang” Generation.

“Boomerang” refers Millennials moving back into their parents home after college.

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that homeownership rate among adults younger than 35 fell by 12 percent between 2006 and 2011, and 2 million more were living with Mom and Dad.

In another report, done by the U.S. Census Bureau found the country’s homeownership rate hit its lowest level since 1965.

In addition, the median age of first-time homebuyers reached 35 between 2010 and 2015, according to PwC. That’s an all-time high since the firm started tracking this metric in 1970.

Millennials are buying homes, just later than ever before.

IMPACT: Writing package only business in personal lines may not be a viable solution moving forward.

millennials live at home with parents

How bad is our Millennial problem?

It would be easy to blame traditional insurance marketing tactics and strategy for independent agents Millennial problem.

Unfortunately, the issue lies deeper, at the core of who we believe our customers should be.

Too many independent agents still picture a 17-year-old in their mind when discussing Millennials.

Millennials are not kids anymore.

They’re rapiding moving into the prime purchasing years of their life.

In order for the marketing tactics and strategy explained in this article to be effective, we must first believe Millennials are the type of client we want to write.

Our lack of interest in Millennials as lead to the lowest independent agent penetration of any generation.

According to a study by Effective Coverage, only 24% of Millennials use a local insurance agency.

millennials local independent agent

Unfortunately, a lack of belief isn’t the only reason independent insurance agents struggle to capture new Millennial clients.

Here are three more reasons:

1) Pale, Stale and Male

Independent insurance agents struggle to connect with Millennials.

Why?

Millennials view independent agents as old, out of touch and inconvenient.

No better than used car salesman.

We don’t leverage technology.

We’re not easy to communicate with.

We don’t prioritize customer experience.

When you think about it, it’s not surprising Millennials don’t understand the value of independent agents.

pale stale and male

2) We Neglect Millennials

We’ve ignored the Millennials for decade and now they have no idea who we are.

Think about it.

How much marketing have you done to attract Millennials to your agency?

Are you creating Youtube videos?

Is your agency using Facebook, the right way?

Not getting as much activity from Facebook marketing as your would like? We will teach you how to do Facebook marketing the right way inside Agency Nation University.

Are you joining local organizations filled with Millennials?

If the answer to these questions is “No,” then you’re neglecting Millennials.

It’s going to be a challenge to breakthrough to the oldest members of this generation, who now turning 35 and have been bombarded by GEICO, State Farm, All State and Farmers their entire lives.

3) Millennials are Disengaged

To make matters worse, according to Gallup, Millennial consumers are the most likely generation to be fully disengaged from their insurance carrier.

Why does it matter if a consumer is engaged with their insurance carrier?

Here are few positives to engaged insurance consumers:

  • They are less sensitive about pricing,
  • They spend more and buy a wider variety of products,
  • They stay with the company longer, and
  • They are more likely to recommend their insurance carrier to others.

Unfortunately, due to several reasons, including a distrust of institutional corporations and mass advertising burnout, independent agents have a hard road ahead to re-engage Millennials.

disengaged millennials

How Millennials Buy Stuff

Before we can fully understand how Millennials buy, why they buy and what we can do make sure they buy insurance from independent agents, we must first embrace our new role in the insurance buying process.

Independent agents are no longer the gatekeepers of insurance expertise.

We must remove ourselves as an obstacle to purchasing insurance.

Yes.

To the Millennial consumer, many traditional insurance practices are seen more as obstacles than standard business practices.

  • Why should they have to wait three days for quote?
  • Why should they have to visit your office?
  • Why should they have to fill out paper forms?
  • Why should they have to talk to you on the phone?
  • Why should they have to wait till the morning to make a policy change?

As independent agents, we must embrace our new role as tour guides.

This is a good thing.

We get to step back into our sweet spot: relationship building.

As tour guides through the insurance buying process we get focus our full attention on customer experience.

Customer Expectations

 

No longer will marketing your agency on good service and access to markets differentiate your business.

Everyone has 30 carriers to get quotes from and seriously, what is “good” service, anyway?

No business in history has ever survived, let alone marketed the fact that their service is anything less than “good.”

Good service just isn’t good enough anymore.

Millennial consumers demand a more sophisticated and personalized experience.

Prioritize customer service over customer experience and you’re already a commodity.

A great customer experience starts with showing up in search.

In a moment of need, 87% of consumers turn to search engines first, according to Think With Google.

Consumers are also twice as likely to use a search engine to help solve their problem versus a phone call, visiting a store or even social media.

The fact is, when people have a problem, they seek answer through search engines.

search engine in moment of need

There is no way around it.

Independent insurance agents must show up in search.

This is why TrustedChoice.com has focused so much energy referral generation activity on search engine optimization (SEO), (Click here to learn more about TrustedChoice.com referrals), and why content marketing and SEO are huge sections with Agency Nation University.

If your brand doesn’t show up in search, Millennials will NOT take you seriously.

millennials google search

 

When a Millennial consumers have a problem, they seek solutions first and relationships second.

Showing up in search is one of the best ways to provide the solution they seek.

Millennials lean heavy on the Internet to inspire their purchases.

As Kevin Hofmann, Home Depot’s chief marketing officer, explained to CNBC:

“The of inspirational Pinterest boards, instructional YouTube videos and aspirational home improvement shows, Home Depot’s research has found that millennials are more interested in do-it-yourself projects than previous generations.”

Hoffman went on to explain that:

“They (Millennials) also expect a broader array of choices. For example, five styles of granite used to be sufficient, but the company may now have to offer 30 types… It isn’t just about assortment, Millennials also want retailers to ‘cut through a lot of the noise,’ and be able to highlight the five most fashion-forward faucets for people living in Miami.”

Financials also play a role in this trend, as explained above, millennials are saddled with the most student debt in history.

This has forced Millennial homebuyers to seek out older, less expensive homes for purchase.

The median age of a home on the rise — it increased from 31 to 37 in the 10 years ended 2015, according to UBS analyst Michael Lasser in the same CNBC interview. Lasser argument is that the aging homes fit Millennial budgets but will cause many of the homes millennials purchase to require more attention and capital improvements over time.

undesirable insurance shopper

It would be easy to stereotype Millennials and believe, “It’s all about online shopping.”

Accenture interviewed millennial shoppers and confirmed recent survey results on retail trends and their preference for online versus in-store shopping.

Millennial shoppers are not simply moving to the online space to make their purchases, forgetting about the in-store experience.

Instead, Millennials are using the online channel to become smarter, better-informed customers, before they begin buying process.

Millennials don’t want to have to choose between online or offline. Instead, preferring an integrated, seamless customer experience, providing the same merchandise, same pricing, same discounts whether in-store, online or on their mobile device.

Delivering a truly seamless customer experience requires a presence at every stage of the customer journey.

We get even more insights from Dan Schwabel, in his breakdown of a study done by Elite Daily:

  • Millennials are not influenced by advertising. Only 1% of millennials surveyed by Elite Daily said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more.
  • Millennials value authenticity as more important than content. 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. They first have to trust a company or news site before they even bother reading the content that they produce.
  • Millennials want to engage with brands on social networks. 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
  • Millennials are brand loyal. 60% said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase from.

Millennials have their own idiosyncratic buying process, but it’s still not that much different from previous generations.

There’s just a little technology sprinkled on top.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Agents

7 Ways to Sell Insurance to Millennials

1) Start Selling Renter Insurance

What to write more Millennial insurance consumers?

Start selling renter insurance (and that includes stand-alone renters insurance).

Why must we sell stand-alone renters insurance?

Millennials won’t always be renters.

This is a really important point.

Millennials won’t always be renters.

As we’ve noted above, Millennials are young, struggling with debt and employment, and they’re settling down into families later in life. Renting makes complete sense for many Millennials right now.

But that doesn’t mean that Millennials will always be renters. Eventually, they’re going to want to buy a house and a car. They’ll get married and have kids. They might even start a business.

Doing the right thing for Millennials today, by writing a stand-alone renters policy, means you’ll be their first option as their insurance needs become more complicated.

Dismissing a potential Millennial client because their current needs are limited, with low revenue opportunity, is a condemning business practice.

2) Create Agency Advocates

According to report from the Boston Consulting Group, one of the primary attitudes/behaviors exhibited by Millennials is captured in the quote below:

“I trust my friends more than ‘corporate mouthpieces’.”

You talking about your agency is nice.

Your happy clients talking about your agency is powerful.

These are your agency advocates and their words hold more weight with Millennial consumers than anything you will ever say.

One of the most effective ways to capture and distribute agency advocate testimonials is through online reviews.

Fifty-one percent of young adults say they prefer product reviews from people they don’t know.

We share a fool-proof for generating more Google and Facebook reviews inside Agency Nation University.

Bazaarvoice_Millennials_Infographic

3) Specialize on Interests

Niche marketing has been an agency growth best practice for decades. Its listed as one of the primary growth drivers in our “Lean In” article.

Specializing on customers interests is slightly different and runs more in line with the Millennial mindset.

In their report, The Millennial Consumer, The Boston Consulting Group found:

“Millennials are social creatures – online and offline.”

Millennials use technology to connect with people, more often and in real-time.

Specifically, Millennials use various social media platforms more often than non-Millennials (79% to 59%) and have on average significantly larger networks of connections.

Often, Millennial connections are broken up within a social media platform by interest, hobby, or shared desire. Whether this skiing, gaming or a particular charity, Millennials use social media networks to follow along with and participant communities of shared interest.

Become part of these “Interest Communities.”

Millennials are almost twice as likely to do business with a brand who has a Facebook page and mobile websites. Integrate your brand, in an authentic way, into the communities Millennials frequent and you’ll gain their trust over time.

Everyone, even Millennials, does business with the brands they trust.

4) Pick Up the Phone

According to research done at TrustedChoice.com, 40% of all insurance buyers who contact an independent agent through our system, who hit a phone tree during work hours, never talk to a human.

Phone trees kill new business sales.

We have to pick up the phone.

A human being MUST pick up the phone every time someone calls.

It’s time for the phone tree to die.

If there is one thing you could do to improve new business sales today, it would be to get rid of your phone tree and have a human being pick up the phone every time someone calls.

5) Be Available

This one builds off of picking up the phone.

It’s not good enough anymore to only be available during standard work hours.

People are busy working during standard work hours.

They agencies which truly embrace Millennials and ultimately build a great insurance customer experience will provide some form of 24/7 access.

This could mean access to policy information through mobile apps or a web portal.

It could mean hiring a call center to answer after hours phone calls. It could mean taking on a WAHVE employee whose willing to stay up late.

There are solutions to 24/7. All with their own pros and cons.

Yes. These solutions will cost money.

Yes. You will have to change some of the ways you do business.

Yes. You will write more business, provide a better customer experience and capture more Millennial clients.

6) Tell a Better Story

No one piece of content can tell the story of your business.

It takes hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of content, published over months and years.

Every piece of content, from blog posts, to videos, Facebook posts, to emails and your voicemail message tells the story of your business.

If your phone is not currently ringing from prospects, eager to work with your agency, than the story you’re telling online is not good enough.

Telling a better story is as easy as filling three content buckets:

  1. Company: Who are you? Who are your staff? Why do you show up every day? Why does your staff? Why has your receptionist stayed with you for 30 years? Why did you decide to start an insurance agency in the first place?
  2. Client: Who does business with you? Why did they decide to work with your agency? Where do you clients hang out? What are your clients interested in?
  3. Community: How do you integrate your agency into the community? What charities do you support? Where do you hang out in your town? What local organizations are you a part of?

Each piece of content, bit by bit, tells the story of your agency.

Business storytelling

7) Live in the Brackish Water

Brackish water is defined as: is salt saltwater and freshwater mixed together, often occurring in estuaries, where freshwater rivers and streams meet the ocean.

For independent agents, Brackish Water is where traditional business methodologies meet the modern digital marketplace.

We must find ways to mix old-school human relationship building with the fast paced world of the Internet.

Here’s the hard part. We must be able to do this at scale and at a price point a “Main Street” independent agent can afford.

Survival in the Brackish Water is not easy. Estuaries are tumultuous places.

Here are a few ideas to get your started:

  1. Use Facebook Live video to connect with prospects and clients.
  2. Text message with clients who prefer.
  3. Use short videos to educate prospects on common insurance questions.

There will be thrashing, flailing and failure, but there will also be survival.

The Rub

Insurance is a complicated product, that must, at all times, appear simple the consumer.

This is especially true for Millennials.

Millennials are different than previous generations, of this, there is no doubt. But every generation is different than the previous.

Have Baby Boomer forgotten when the Silent Generation had to say about the ’60s and ’70s?

Let this blow your mind…

What will Millennials say about Generation Z?

Most likely, there will be the same types of complaints.

The lesson, there is a risk to stereotyping a generation.

Embrace Millennials for who they are and set your agency up to capture new Millennials client for decades to come.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

P.S. Want to take your insurance marketing game to the next level? Click here to learn more about Agency Nation University.

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