This article from The Economist discusses how companies from Silicon Valley are creating products that are much more suited to males than females, alienating half of their potential customers. This is in some surprisingly obvious ways: most mobile phones and gaming devices are simply too big for most women's hands to use with as much comfort and utility as the average man using the same device. This is my my wife persists with her ancient, but correctly sized, iphone SE, rather than choosing to upgrade. It's a huge lost opportunity. If you read the article you can easily feel smug - as I did - about the silly mistakes these silicon valley geniuses make - like trusting the design decisions to teams that are 75% male. But there's another part of me worrying - what are we missing? Here are two examples:
We're missing out on women. Looking at several hundred thousand quotes, 43% of quotes arose from couples and 57.4% arose from quotes for single adults. Men were quoted for insurance on their own at a rate twice that of women. Increasing the engagement of women quoting alone to that of men would be a 20% boost to quotes for the industry. In the advised channel we are not quoting single women as often, and when we look at cover levels for women, they remain lower than for men. Remember that with declining marriage rates women tend to remain single, or if in relationship, financially independent, for longer, which expands the impact of this industry weakness. There is nothing like this skew in direct insurance.
In Auckland we're also missing out on adequately serving the multi-adult household, which now accounts for 30% of all households in this region, by featuring mainly traditional families. We're missing out on women, big time. The We're missing out on genuine connection to client needs - by talking about insurance all the time, and not about health, risk, or the great purpose of financial risk transfer. Where there are people with a financial dependence on each other, there is usually a need for insurance. Marketing to that segment with a new solution to the challenge of making sure the benefit goes for its intended purpose would help.
There are more, and they require detailed evaluation. The solutions to accessing ignored segments is not straightforward. All change is difficult. It's an example, however, that the industry needs to change to reflect changes in society around us. While it might be embarrassing to be talking about selling more to single women in 2019, it would be even more embarrassing to be still talking about it as a problem in 2029. While the housing crisis has been in the news almost every week for the last five years, we do not appear to have recognised one of the most obvious consequences: more shared housing.
More details will be in the Quarterly Life and Health Sector report.