In affluent Denver, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, financial planner Kristi C. Sullivan stares at the sight of big-box store shoppers fighting to be first to buy 50-inch flat-panel TV at a deep discount.
Several thoughts come to mind, she writes in an email to InsuranceNewsNet:
- Does that person have a savings account, life insurance or retirement savings?
- People who are heavily tattooed spent a fortune on the body ink.
- Women stumbling around her local mall in six-inch stilettos staggering under the weight of shopping bags.
Thanksgiving’s Black Friday, replete with the obligatory images of buyers trampling all over themselves, followed by Cyber Monday, traditionally opens the critical holiday shopping season when retailers earn 70 percent of their annual profits.
If only consumers were so gung-ho about buying life insurance and annuities.
Carol S. Craigie, a psychologist-turned-fee-only planner in Parker, Colo., says if there was a way to bundle life insurance or financial instruments into the sale of retail items, it might inject some fun into selling insurance.
“If you could figure out how to package your love, it wouldn’t come in an Xbox, it would come from wrapping your family in financial protection,” she said.
The challenge is to get industry marketers to package the protection message and bundle life coverage with other items to compete for wallet share.
“We know you want to give your wife that diamond ring as symbol of love,” she said. “If the ring was the wrapper and on the inside, there’s a life insurance policy and you can stay in the house if I die, which represents more love?”
The retail clerk at Best Buy isn’t licensed to sell insurance. But consumers routinely shell out of extended warranties, a form of insurance protection, so why can’t life and annuities get in on the action as well?
Those are protection products, too.
It’s not easy to equate love and self-esteem with protection products instead of with material goods, but maybe we should, said Craigie, a partner with Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America, which promotes sound financial planning.
Craigie suggests betting with friends and neighbors on how pay off debt the fastest
What about launching a “Rational Tuesday,” or even a “Give a Real Gift for the Ones You Love Tuesday,” to help insurance get in on the retail action, Craigie said.
Life Insurance Month in September and Annuity Awareness Month in June help raise consciousness of the importance of protection products, but it’s during the holiday season that consumers are most likely to open their wallets.
The Thanksgiving sales boost is expected to propel November auto sales to the highest level since 2001, according to Kelly Blue Book.
With term life way more affordable than car payments, and with millions of people shelling out for new or reworked tattoos, objections about buying life insurance being too expensive doesn’t wash with the majority of financial advisors.
Microsoft’s Xbox video game console was the second-best selling technology item on Cyber Monday after 4K TVs, according to news reports.
Monday’s record online sales of more than $3 billion rose 16 percent from Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe data based on 200 million visits to 4,500 retail outlets. The average purchase price per order was more than $135.
Broadband traffic from e-commerce shot up 18 percent Saturday and 21 percent Sunday compared with normal volumes, according to the Verizon Retail Index.
IBM Watson Trend reports that mobile traffic accounted for nearly half of all online traffic and 27.6 percent of all online sales Monday, according to USA Today. About $11 billion was spent online between Thanksgiving Day and Monday, a 15 percent jump from last year.
Target’s website even crashed under the heavy online traffic.
Every year, it seems, agents stare down a familiar sight: frenetic consumers eager to consume toys and gadgets, yet reticent when it comes to protecting lives, livelihoods and income.
Advisors can at least take note of the jump in transactions conducted using mobile devices during this year’s opening holiday season salvo.
While mobile accounted for about 30 percent of online shopping on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, by midday Monday mobile had soared to as high as 53 percent, with 41 percent of transactions coming from phones and 12 percent from tablets, Adobe reported.
Term life is easily bought online via mobile devices, but more complex life insurance and annuities lag due to compliance-related issues and internal channel conflicts within insurance carriers.
In a report last November, Celent analyst Karen Monks found that uneven development of different sales channels was hampering insurance sales.
Many carriers consider direct sales, or sales conducted over the Internet, for example, in competition with the agent channel. As a result, carriers make changes to one distribution channel without making identical changes to other channels.
The report titled “Life Insurance Online Self-Service,” found that technology changes and customer expectations from everything from sales and marketing to customer service to claims, were having a big impact on insurers.
“That means that today’s consumers want the option to interact with an insurer via a website or via a mobile device,” Monks wrote.
If ever the insurance industry needed reminding, it needed look no further than Cyber Monday 2015 for that.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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