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"Millennials are less likely than any other generation to engage with insurance companies, and it isn’t because of their age. Even though all millennials are bonafide adults now, the generation isn’t getting what they want from their insurance providers. Rather than spend time complaining about millennials or claiming that they are “killing” another industry, the insurance sector needs to evolve to meet changing needs. After all, millennials will outnumber boomers by 2019, Pew researcher Richard Fry reports. Independent agents who want to keep pace need to appeal to this young adult audience. Independent agents alike can engage this generation if they do so thoughtfully. However, businesses will only succeed by meeting millennials where they are, not by asking them to bend to a more traditional way of doing things. Below are some ways that insurance companies earn millennials’ business.  

They Want You to Know Who They Are

Ryan Hanley, CMO at Agency Nation, warns that too many insurance professionals fundamentally misunderstand the basic demographics of the millennial generation. ""Millennials are not kids anymore,"" Hanley writes. ""They're rapidly moving into the prime purchasing years of their life. For the marketing tactics and strategy [...] to be effective, we must first believe Millennials are the type of client we want to write.” Before independent agents can hope to attract more young adults, they have to understand that millennials are, in fact, adults. Then, there are other factors that insurers need to know about millennials. “They’re empowered, connected, and leading the charge for change!” says IBM insurance marketing expert Lynn Kesterson-Townes. She argues that to understand what products millennials want, agents need to understand how their households differ. “According to the Pew Research Center, only about a quarter of millennials are married,” she writes. ""Back in the day, half of Baby Boomers were already married at the same age Millennials are now."" Clearly, marketing insurance as a way to protect families isn't the right strategy to attract millennials, at least not right now. As so many live alone or with their parents, you risk alienating 75 percent of this consumer base when you take the family angle.

They Want Policies Tailored to Their Needs

Millennials are self-aware enough to know that the insurance their parents and grandparents had won’t necessarily work for them. When insurance agents talk to millennials about their needs, they should keep the differences between generations in mind. For example, it might not be relevant to speak about home insurance: 72 percent of households with heads of household under 30 rent. Instead, agents should engage potential customers by discussing the importance of renters’ policies. Jeanne Salvatore, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, phrases the argument this way: “Absolutely, positively, purchase renters’ insurance. You try to replace your bed, mattress, comforter, sheets, pillow — we’re talking a lot of money here. If you have to re-buy everything, it’s going to cost thousands, even for the most bare-bones apartment.” Renters’ insurance is a small price to pay for a lot of coverage.  

They Demand Better Messaging

If Salvatore’s comments about renters’ insurance seem straightforward, that’s because they are. This generation has had screens and advertisements in their faces for as long as they can remember. They can spot fake, inauthentic marketing from miles away. Nigel Walsh at Deloitte says that any insurance agents who want to reach millennials must therefore be true to themselves. “...there seems very little doubt that the most successful insurers when it comes to dealing with Millennials will be those that are authentic and trustworthy and that are able to offer pricing at the ‘right’ level,” Walsh writes. Unsure of what authenticity looks like to millennials? Michele Serro may have that answer. Serro is an entrepreneur who has managed to attract millennials to the daunting housing market. Before founding her company, Doorsteps, she did in-depth research on millennials and found that this generation responds to four things in marketing:

  1. Products and messaging that make sense together
  2. Humanized messaging
  3. Brands that clearly listen to millennials
  4. Stories of what could be

The last point can be quite useful for independent agents in particular. Insurance is all about protecting against what could happen and building a better future. Agents who can tell those stories in ways that make sense with their products and come from real experiences can be successful in this space. Agents may also want to think about the means by which they deliver their marketing messages. Contrary to what some people believe, millennials are more receptive to seeing advertisements than their predecessors, at least on mobile devices. However, old methods of unidirectional advertising communication won't cut it anymore. Kelly Ehlers, founder of the social media agency Ideas that Evoke, argues that young adults will only respond to advertising that favors experience and interactivity over hard sells. The key takeaway: Engage, don’t sell. Insurance agents would be wise to repeat that mantra until it sticks. Interact with millennials. Engage them with your content. But whatever you do, don’t go for the hard sell.

They Need You to Be Online

Daniela Yu and Chris Portera write about millennials and insurance for Gallup, and they have the numbers to back up what many people know instinctively: Millennials prefer to buy online. In fact, this younger generation is more than twice as likely to purchase insurance online than older generations. That doesn’t mean independent agents are out of the loop. There are still plenty of millennials who want a real-life agent to help them. Agents who want to attract these customers, though, need a robust online presence. In fact, the question isn’t whether independent agents should be active on social media, but how they should use it. Patrick Sitkins of ZYWave warns that just having a few social profiles isn’t enough. Agencies have to engage. “You can’t simply exist on social media, you have to use it the way it was intended,” Sitkins writes. That is to say that insurance agents must interact with the community online. This is how millennials will find the insurance agents they trust. Content is vital to this strategy, but not all content is good, and “good” is still relative to where that content lives. Jill Berroth at Agency Revolution says that videos, for example, are the best kind of content for insurance agents on Facebook. “From community involvement to promoting local businesses, creating and posting videos on social media platforms are a great way to create engagement and an emotional connection with viewers,” Berroth wrote. Being online for millennials also means processing their claims that way. Scott McGee at Insurance Times notes that millennials want to file their claims online, but they want a personal touch. Agencies that communicate with customers online should always be sure to add just a bit of personality to these communications, but always without faking it.  

They Want an Easier Buying Process

Lemonade, an insurance-tech startup that initially focused on rents in New York City, has brought droves of millennials on board by simply making their insurance easier to buy. Lemonade’s founder and CEO, Daniel Schreiber, says that it was all about changing the words people associated with insurance. “Insurance is widely considered a ‘necessary evil,’” Schreiber writes. “If you play the word association game with ‘insurance,’ words like ‘paperwork,’ ‘hassle,’ and ‘fighting’ present a pretty abysmal picture of the industry.”

They Buy From Companies That Do Good in the Community

Millennials are uniquely aware of what companies do with their money. Think of the many boycotts that this generation has organized over social justice issues. There can be little doubt that standing for something good can help attract millennials. Brent Kelly at Agency Nation agrees. “Millennials long to be part of something, not just buy something,” Kelly said. “If your value proposition only discusses competitive pricing and quality coverages, millennials will not buy in.” This generation wants to know that the money they spend goes to something that matters. By building a great relationship with the community and even hosting charity drives, independent agents can prove their value to these young adults. In turn, those agents will earn their business.  

Make Changes and Earn Millennial Business

Above everything else, insurance agents must be ready to help millennials face challenges that are unique to their generation. Along the way, successful agents will gain a fundamental understanding of millennials and be able to tailor product lines to fit their customers’ needs. Furthermore, millennials will naturally drift toward agents who have a robust online presence, add personal touches to customer interactions and stand for a social cause. When agencies engage millennials this way, they position themselves for long-term success. Images by: Hunters Race, Rawpixel, Olu Eletu, Onkundi Nyabuto"

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