What Women Want in Life (Insurance)

Even with the heat wave that has hit New York this week, it feels like summer is coming to a close. With the Labor Day holiday just around the corner, I am looking forward to the next season. With the start of fall, I use that as my trigger to review my finances. I want to make sure that I will end my year on track with the goals I have set for myself.

This personal review includes my insurance coverage. As I did this, I saw the need to update some of my policies. While considering my options, I started to think about how other women approach their financial services. I believe that working with insurance and financial services companies on their marketing efforts gives me a different perspective than traditional consumers. I was sidetracked by the messaging and positioning of the products.

In direct marketing, we look to build one to one relationships. Knowing how to speak to women when selling financial services is critical. Women are 49% of the workforce and 27% of the breadwinners in married households. When purchasing financial products and planning for retirement, 30% of women control the decision making process. Crafting marketing messages and product bundles with these consumers in mind will increase a brand’s market penetration and overall consumption of these services and products.

This does not mean using the color pink, only focusing on women specific products, or using female oriented language. Speaking directly to woman’s concerns, appealing to her desire to provide for and protect her family, and meeting her expectations is the way to accomplish this. Women rely on family and friends, financial advisers, search engine information, and their spouse/partner (in that order) for advice and direction when researching insurance and financial services. Understanding this information gathering process helps align your brand to their needs.

While I do not believe that all women have the same thought process or characteristics, there are several similarities on how women relate to and interact with financial services brands and products. Marital status, presence of children, household income and status as the primary breadwinner all impact how women view and use these products. As a group, women’s financial concerns focus on money for retirement, medical expenses and long term care. They make purchase decisions based on future needs and how the cost of the products fit into today’s budget.

This is especially true when purchasing life insurance. Approximately half of all women own life insurance. Out of the female population, 16% own a group life policy, and 26% own an individual policy. Of those who own life insurance, 30% believe they need some or additional coverage. Of those who own a life insurance policy, the average face amount is $129,800. This is 31% less than the average benefit level for men. The carrier, financial advisor and policyholder herself need to reevaluate the existing coverage. Regardless of the woman’s salary outside of the home, there is value to her contribution in the home. A Mother who does not work outside of the home is valued at $65,284 in 2015. This is almost a 10% increase over the last two years. Working mothers should combine their salary from their job with the “salary” assigned to non-working mothers when determining coverage. This message needs to be better communicated to women and financial planners to make sure they have enough coverage.

Women are more likely to purchase when presented with cross-sell and up-sell product opportunities. They understand these products are related and are there to protect them against long-term, future problems. Keeping in contact with the female policy holders and advising them when circumstances change is vital to keeping their business.

As a marketer, woman and consumer of financial services, I found 4 factors that determined what brand and products I wanted to be associated with and purchase.

  • Address women’s concerns, but make sure the messaging does not position these ideas as women’s issues. Pink is a color, not an attitude. Respect women’s point of view and thought processes.
  • Highlight the benefits of your brand and products as they relate to long term goals. Present a suite of products that will achieve all goals.
  • Have more conversations and fewer sales calls. Educate consumers and humanize the financial institution.
  • Be proactive with your customers. Reach out to them when a new product is offered or when there are changes to existing ones, and when outside factors will impact their day-to-day or future. Establish a connection so they will reach out to you when their needs have changed. Do not blend in with the competition and have your invoice be your only communication all year.

As I decided on the changes I had to make on my own portfolio, I realized that I would have to make changes to my current budget to accommodate my long term goals. While I am still on track to meet my financial goals for 2015 – hello 401K, IRA and insurance coverage – the adjustments I made will impact my daily budget for the rest of the year.