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Reaching Middle Market Requires Nuanced Approach

WINDSOR, Conn., June 25, 2014 – A new study of the middle market, conducted by LIMRA and Epsilon, shows that consumers within this segment have very different financial priorities and widely varying perceptions of risk and the role of life insurance in a financial protection plan.

The report, Demystifying the Middle Market: An Actionable Understanding for Life Insurance, identified five segments within the middle market, which held significantly different attitudes and beliefs about financial decisions.  For example, the first segment is made up primarily of younger families with children under 18.  While this group firmly agreed that life insurance was important, they also were likely to have incurred debt that impacted their financial decisions.  The study recommended that low-cost products like term life insurance would resonate best with this group.  In contrast, the fifth segment was made up of very young or older consumers who were risk takers and expressed little desire for insurance products.  Researchers suggested that investment products (mutual funds, annuities) would be better suited for these consumers.

“While often treated as a homogeneous group, we recognized that the middle market encompasses various generations, at different life stages with different financial priorities,” said Todd A. Silverhart, Ph.D., corporate vice president, LIMRA Insurance Research. “Companies should understand that not all middle market households are equally interested in purchasing life insurance.  Understanding the distinct characteristics that represent those within the middle market who are interested and specifically targeting these consumers will be more cost-effective.”

While demographics can provide some insight on consumers, the study found five broad categories of attitudes, lifestyle and behaviors that tend to dominate the cluster/segment differences.  This information can help advisors and companies align their marketing messages to target broad groups within the middle market.   

The categories identified that were most influential included:

 

  • Risk tolerance
  • Current impact of debt on household
  • Financial situation/life stage
  • Household composition (since this drives values and lifestyle attitudes)
  • Attitudes toward spending/saving, importance of reputation/brand vs. price in purchase decisions in general 

“What makes this report fundamentally different is its use of attitudinal and behavioral data. While demographic data is certainly useful, an understanding of the drivers behind a purchase decision—or indecision—is required to create a segmentation approach that will speak to individuals in a relevant manner and ultimately drive results for insurance providers,” said Dave Edington, senior vice president/general manager of Epsilon’s Insurance Practice.

Based on responses from nearly 4000 consumers, this study identified five distinct middle market segments and results show that each of these segments would be more effectively approached with different products, distribution channels, and messaging.

 

 



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