The Next Big Player in the Health Care Industry

Just the other day, I saw an intriguing teaser about pet insurance on AMA TV. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), this year pet owners are expected to spend $58.5 Billion on their pets and of that, $15.25 billion will go towards veterinary care. Due to the increase in people who treat their pets as part of the family and an upsurge in procedures and cost, pet insurance is positioned to be the next big player in the health care industry. It’s already starting to be offered as an employee benefit at many companies.

However, with the rise in popularity comes new regulations. Proposed California legislation which will regulate pet insurance is currently making headlines. The bill is up for a vote in the Senate. It will be the first of its kind. No other state has imposed regulations for pet insurance.

All of this reminded me of a study we conducted early last year with Hive, our online forum. We brought together a community of pet owners to explore all aspects of the relationships between pets and their human caretakers.  We discussed everything from the types of relationships they have, sleep habits, new product wish lists, holiday shopping behaviors, and even pet insurance. What we found is that there was a lot of hesitancy around acquiring pet insurance, largely driven by costs. Due to the economic climate, some pet owners made mention of barely being able to afford their own health insurance, much less being able to afford insurance for their pets.

pets

We found that with pet insurance being widely seen as a luxury vs. a necessity, those who offer insurance should first and foremost focus on value communications. Breaking costs down in easy to understand increments (i.e. for only $15 dollars a month, for only $100 dollars a year) might increase value perceptions. Offering tiered and/or customizable levels of coverage may broaden appeal.

Additionally, insurance communications should play-up the emotional bond that exists between a pet owner and their pet. In doing so, the takeaway is not ‘I can’t afford it’, it becomes ‘how can I NOT afford it?’

I must admit I used to be one of the naysayers when it came to pet insurance, but not long after we conducted this study I joined the ranks of those insuring their pets; after all, my pets are just two, very loved, extensions of my family.  So, for all you animal lovers out there, how do you feel about pet insurance?

To request a copy of the findings from our Exploring Pet Ownership Study, click here.

Let The Consumer In

I recently read an article that resonated with me.  It covered the idea of including the consumer in the brand storytelling process so that the resulting brand message is not only compelling, but also meaningfully aligned with the consumer’s values.  I felt that the article actually sets the bar for anyone involved in the business of engaging consumers, including those of us in Market Research.

In our increasingly connected, digitally-disrupted world, authenticity is the order of the day.  Consumers are seeking transparent and more meaningful relationships with brands.  One way of achieving that relationship is through insight development.   The techniques brands use to dialogue with consumers,should be engaging, approachable and easy to understand, ones that welcome consumers into an authentic co-creation process.   Traditional marketing approaches that position marketers as all-knowing are out of step in an open environment where empowered consumers, who given the right tools and inspiring techniques, will thoughtfully and profoundly express both their obvious and latent thoughts, feelings, behaviors and attitudes.  Get out of the way, and allow them to tell you about the product or brand that they will loyally support.

This article reminded me of a recent study we conducted in which we utilized our online social forum, Hive. By allowing respondents access to our unique and engaging tools like eCollage within the confines of Hive, we were able to get twice as much verbal playback as standard open-ends alone. Our Exploring Pet Ownership study revealed non-verbal thoughts and emotions by completing ‘a day in the life’ exercise through their online collages. Respondents also participated in photo sharing, blogs, product name ideation and generating ideas for the next development in pet products. The insights collected provided marketers with directions for product positioning and potential white space for new products or line extensions.

As I reflect on my first year with BuzzBack, I think about what an exciting time it is to be in Consumer Insights.  It’s rewarding to see the breakthroughs we make by providing creative, image-based and engaging tools to consumers who are increasingly willing to return the authenticity favor, by openly sharing and collaborating.

For more information on our Exploring Pet Ownership study or our other Hive studies, click here.