UPDATE (12-3-14): Last year, I wrote the blog below. Now that the holiday shopping season has begun, I want to update this post with new additions to the insurance distribution channel:
- Overstock.com began to sell P&C products on its website;
- MassMutual opened a retail store front for financial advisory services;
- Walmart launched an online auto insurance quote comparison site.
With these and other changes in the marketplace, I still believe that purchasing financial services products will become a holiday shopping staple. It is simply a different type of gift to give to your loved ones.
Each year, it seems as if the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. While I do not want to rush into the holidays, I must admit I am ready to start taking advantage of all the great sales. As I finish off my slice of pumpkin pie, I am getting myself mentally ready to shop with the masses. I have not yet finalized my holiday gift giving list, but I know that I will find the perfect gift as I wander in and out of the stores on Fifth Avenue and other smaller boutiques. I know I am not alone with my eager anticipation to start shopping. Some retail stores have decided kick off Black Friday on Thanksgiving night, giving the most eager shoppers a chance to start early. This year, shoppers will be able to purchase more than holiday decorations, sweaters and electronics from the big box stores.
There is a growing trend among financial services companies to offer their products in traditional retail stores, while retailers are moving to expand and improve their online presence. As consumers increase their buying activity on smart phones or other devices, insurance and banking companies are providing portals for purchasing the products online. However, the face to face interactions found at the retail level can simplify the buying process of complex financial products.
During the shopping frenzy that will take place over the next few weeks, consumers will have the ability to purchase MetLife life insurance in Wal-Mart, Aetna health insurance in Costco or home improvement loans in Home Depot. Additionally, pop up stores in local malls are selling health insurance from United Healthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield. Although the products will not be offered at sale prices, they are available to purchase in non-traditional channels. By offering these products at the retail stores, financial services companies are able to reach out to populations that may not have regular access to or have been solicited for these products.
Even if life and health insurance are not among the top sellers this season, awareness of these products among the underbanked and unbanked populations will surely increase. With awareness, consumers can become more educated and find the products that best suit their needs and budget. Shopping for financial services products may become a holiday shopping staple like toys, scarves and TVs.
I will be taking next week off and enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday and the holiday sales. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and a good holiday season.