Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people now, more than ever before are concerned about their health and that of their families, they’re also stressed about their finances from insurance, income, EMIs, credit card bills to taxes. With insurance being classified as an essential service during these past months, Sapna Desai, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing, ManipalCigna Health Insurance tells us how the brand saw a rise in health insurance sales in March, 2020. Desai is also clear that the brand will play the role of a socially responsible brand during these times and will focus on offering genuine assistance to consumers rather than sales.
What has your key learning been from the lockdown earlier this year for your brand and overall industry?
As we know, the government of India classified insurance as an essential service and with the country under lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, it was important for us as a responsible health insurance brand, to recognize our role as an ‘essential service’ in people’s lives and be a beacon of reassurance and trust amongst customers. In times of crisis mostly three things become important to maintain brand trust: care, connection and communication. Therefore, our marketing philosophy at ManipalCigna has been to be there for our customers, partners and co-workers and ensure we do these three right things during this challenging time.
What is one consumer pattern that you pre-empt right now for your sector and overall industry?
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people now, more than ever before are concerned about their health and that of their families, they’re also stressed about their finances from insurance, income, EMIs, credit card bills to taxes. Over the last one month, we have a seen a rise in queries for health insurance covers and a large percentage of people, especially youth, today are looking to purchase health insurance policies as a protection against the medical expenses of the future. The health insurance industry has witnessed an overhaul in the past few years and due to the recent situation and significant increase in awareness towards the growing cost of medical expenses, the demand for health insurance policies has gone up. Also, every year, generally the overall health insurance industry witnesses a higher growth in sale of policies before the end of the financial year to save tax, but as compared to March 2019, the sale of health insurance policies in March 2020 has also increased marginally by 10%. In a relatively under-insured market like ours, the current pandemic is likely to boost demand and growth for health insurance going forward.
What is one thing that you can avoid doing right now and what is it that you must do right now for your brand?
Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to impact their life profoundly. Even the smallest gesture could make a memorable impression, hence we need to be mindful, transparent and authentic while amplifying and disseminating brand messaging given the current situation. As a socially responsible brand, one should focus less on sales campaigns during the crisis and reach the customer in the manner and medium convenient to them and offer genuine customer support and assistance where possible it is now.
Are you going to increase ad spends on Digital? If yes, by what percentage?
With social distancing and lockdowns, today people are confined to their homes and spending more time on their television and mobile phones. Thus, we are doing a lot of Digital and through our owned social media assets, we are offering helpful, relevant product and service information whilst keeping the perspective of a target audience in mind. Also, inspired by real life customer stories, we have recently launched a new digital brand campaign ‘Health Ke Saath, Health Insurance Zaroori Hai’ to encourage people to gain a greater sense of control over their physical and financial health.
What is your message to the consumer of your brand?
There is a common belief that people are health-wise infallible – not likely to fall sick, and that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active was all they needed to stay fit and healthy. However, the truth of the matter, is that while healthy habits do play an important role on keeping certain ailments at bay, there are some unforeseen situations like the recent outbreak of COVID-19 that can still occur and will require hospitalization, despite all the proactive efforts taken to be healthy.
Therefore, along with healthy habits, health insurance is equally essential to safeguard long-term financial goals, enjoy lifetime access to quality health care, and to live a healthier life. As we know, in the last five years alone, the world has faced dreaded viruses such as Ebola, Zika, Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), Nipah, and now COVID-19. As deadly viruses spread around the world, the costs associated with testing and treatment for the virus are weighing on patients who are underinsured or uninsured. Thus, at ManipalCigna we would like to encourage people to gain a greater sense of control over their physical and financial health. After all, we believe ‘Health Hai Toh Life Hai’.