More and more companies, and even entire industries, are asking themselves, “How do we reach millennials?” As the generation whose households already control financial assets worth more than $1 trillion, it’s a good question to ask.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, millennials are estimated to have $200 billion in annual buying power. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that nearly one-third, or 31.9 percent, of the labor force is made up of individuals between the ages of 20 and 34. As the generation representing the country’s economic future, we need to understand how they perceive their financial prospects and what they look for in terms of achieving financial security.
As insurers, we understand that complacency in our products, offerings and customer service is unacceptable. To that end, we continually study and evaluate what we are providing our customers and if our products and tools are best meeting their needs. It’s through that process that we came to the realization – millennials may not be as different as many think.
It’s no secret that today’s consumers and their expectations are changing. That fact is true for any industry and any product. In a world where access to information is instantaneous, where products can be ordered, bought and delivered to any location in minutes, and where immediate transportation is now at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that consumers are expecting more. When even companies like Domino’s are experimenting with drone delivery, companies can’t afford to ignore the potential impact that technological advances can have on their industry.
However, what we are learning is that these expectations are not limited to millennials who have grown up in a world ever-more connected by the internet and virtual possibilities. In fact, the adoption of technology and preference for easy access to information is cross-generational.
Despite not growing up in the age of information immediacy, even Gen Xers and baby boomers have been significantly influenced by the convenience of information access. Nearly three-quarters of Gen Xers, or 72.5 percent, and two-third of baby boomers – or 64.6 percent – agree that the Internet has changed the way they get information about products and services. These numbers are comparable to, if not higher than, the share of millennials that feel this way, at 68.5 percent.
Whether someone is a boomer, Gen Xer or a millennial, they share similar approaches and assumptions about technology. Users expect information to be easily accessible, their private data to be secure and for account interfaces to be user-friendly.
As the financial services industry in general – and life insurance specifically – move to update their technological infrastructure, this lesson on the appeal of technology to users of all ages is one we need to deeply understand and integrate into our long-term planning. But no matter the ease and convenience that technological advances provide, as industry leaders we can never forget the importance of a personal relationship and a human touch.
At its core, life insurance is premised on the idea of giving loved ones financial security. It allows us to plan for the long-term and protect our families from sudden financial shocks that can accompany life changes and provide for the end of a career and retirement. What’s more, decisions about life insurance are long-term commitments – potentially stretching over decades. Because of the gravity and length of time that comes with purchasing life insurance, it is vital that our customers can develop personal relationships with their financial professional so that their specific questions are answered and they are provided the best product for their needs and goals.
The value of personal relationships and the confidence needed in a financial professional to entrust them with financial information is not something that ebbs and flows with the latest technological advances. Even millennials recognize the value of human input when making decisions related to their finances.
When asked where they find financial information and advice, the top source cited by millennials, as well as older generations, was to ask a friend or family member over searching on the Internet or going to a specific website. This nexus of personal connection and readily available information are the cornerstones of how our business operates and will always be critical to ensuring our customers have the resources they need to have enduring confidence in our approach.
We believe in the importance of staying modern and providing users with the tools they need and want. But, we understand that these tools are only a means to an end and that people of any age – millennial, Gen Xer, or boomer – all equally value a close and personal relationship as they make financial decisions that will have a real, meaningful impact on them and their loved ones in the future.
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