Recently, I asked a group of life insurance industry leaders four questions about the use of fear in selling life insurance. Eighty-two people responded.
This was prompted by some recent discussions about how the industry applies language in its communication. Those discussions suggest that some leaders feel that the industry’s approach is outdated, so I wondered if that were true for many.
The questions weren’t hard, but they were a lot of answers to choose from.
The four questions were as follows:
- What consumer emotion do you believe is the biggest driver of consumer buying behavior around life insurance?
- What consumer emotion do you believe is most often used by insurance companies in selling life insurance?
- What consumer emotion do you believe is most often used by insurance agents in selling life insurance?
- What emotion do YOU personally feel when you think about the similarity or difference in the answers above?
The answers were chosen from a list of 73 possible human emotions as detailed by Wikipedia. It includes everything from affection to zest, and even Schadenfreude (the happiness that comes from the misfortune of others).
The number one answer for all of the first three questions was fear, with around 25 percent or more choosing it. Interestingly enough, the number one answer for the question about their own emotions was frustration, with about 21 percent.
I suspected fear would rank high for the first three questions about selling, but what I find interesting is that executives obviously think there is something wrong with this picture. Otherwise, why would they be frustrated about it? If the consumer buys on fear, and we are delivering on fear, then what’s the problem?
Perhaps we don’t like the answer. Ironically, the next most chosen emotion that leaders felt was disappointment.