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Why it’s time to turn selling life insurance upside down

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Why it’s time to turn selling life insurance upside down.

by Ian Henderson, CEO of AML Group

Life insurance. Health cover. Pensions. They’ve never been an easy sell – most of us don’t want to be reminded that we’re going to get old, get sick or die. But these essential products can radically improve our lives; and now there’s a new kind of marketing that could help people to get the financial products they actually need.

Selling financial protection products is complicated. With good reason it’s highly regulated, and often intermediated. User journeys are frequently long and complex. And worse, we’re sometimes asking people to make important long-term decisions about things they’d really rather not think about in the first place.

Added to that, financial services is still the sector least trusted by consumers. We may believe banks will give us our money back and that our pension will one day pay out (called transactional trust) but we simply don’t believe the financial industry has our best interests as consumers at heart (relational trust is the one that’s lacking).

So we’re less likely to believe advice we’re given by the life industry, even if it’s good advice. We get confused, worried and on the whole we’d rather think about something else instead. And quite often, well-intended advertising messages – even if they’re delivered with humour, empathy and a picture of happy, well-off people – simply compound our fears.

All of which means we put off those decisions – unless it’s made easy for us, and the advice we get comes from a trusted source. That might be a financial adviser, if we have one – but most people don’t. Research shows our most trusted sources are family and friends, followed by online influencers.

And that brings us to a possible solution. Let’s call it the new new advertising.

It’s part of a big societal shift that’s been going on for a while. An upending of the old order, an inversion of old-style, top-down hierarchies. A shift to new, bottom-up, distributed and inclusive movements. Think Harvey Weinstein versus #MeToo, or Big Oil versus Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.

We are seeing bottom-up, movement-based marketing taking over from top-down, conventional ‘push’ campaigns in consumer products. Unlike beer ads of the past selling refreshment, peer approval or heritage Brewdog are selling an open source, crowdfunded alternative – you buy the beer, you can own the company. Massive global brands have been built as user-driven movements, like AirBnB. There’s GiffGaff, the user-controlled telecom network and Monzo, the challenger bank. My daughter was one of the queue of mostly young people actually wanting to join a bank because the marketing made them feel ownership, being part of a movement.

A bottom-up movement can be far more cost effective because the users and customers become your media channels. AirBnB’s massive growth came from customer referrals, incentivised on both sides. Monzo’s Golden Ticket was a way of turning a bank into a viral phenomenon. And the perceived independence (and therefore trustworthiness) of shared experience with another person who wants what you want builds relational trust far more effectively than a top-down campaign can.

To make it work, we have to really understand the behaviours and drivers (both rational and emotional) of a whole ecosystem of people – not just prospects but their influencers, and others who may enter the conversation as critics or advocates. That means some serious research and data crunching. In the words of one New Power theorist Jeremy Heimans, you first find your ‘connected connectors’.

Then we need an idea – a simple, emotional focus for the movement. A MeToo, a Take Back Control, a Punk IPA. Like any advertising idea it needs to be memorable, distinctive, ownable … but most of all it needs to come from the grassroots, from the users. It needs to have virality. Simple, but far from easy. We must remove barriers between the idea and participants; build participation, not consumption; and harness the strength of ‘storms’ – by creating, chasing or embracing a social movement.

Campaigns need to drive action, build connections and make it easy for audiences to extend by themselves using social media, targeted ads, carefully curated content. A bottom-up movement-based marketing campaign, driven by the people to whom financial protection products really matter – the customers – could make an enormous difference to the way life insurance, health cover and pensions are understood, thought about, and bought not sold.

The new advertising, bottom up rather than top down, provides the cost-effective means. All it takes to make it happen is the open, collaborative will of the industry.

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart 1

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down crude production.

Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.5%, at $65.60 a barrel by 1212 GMT, and U.S. crude rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $62.09 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier in the session.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said optimistic oil price forecasts issued by leading U.S. brokers had also contributed to the latest upswing in prices.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley expects Brent crude to climb to $70 in the third quarter.

“New COVID-19 cases are falling fast globally, mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve, and in non-OECD countries, refineries are already running as hard as before COVID-19,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

Disruptions in Texas caused by last week’s winter storm also supported oil prices. Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

A weaker dollar also provided some support to oil as crude prices tend to move inversely to the U.S. currency.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by David Evans and John Stonestreet)

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade deal with Japan settled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the United Kingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospects there, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has since the 1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destination for investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda using the country as a launchpad into Europe.

But Britain’s shock 2016 decision to leave the European Union had prompted Japan to express unusually strong public concerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderly exit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decade bet on Britain.

“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentary committee.

“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”

Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement in October, marking Britain’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade. It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is also a member.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell in the year to February as stores cut jobs at a rapid rate, with only supermarkets reporting any growth during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s gauge of retail sales stood at -45, up only slightly from January’s eight-month low of -50. The measure points to falling sales and is below the consensus forecast of -38 in a Reuters poll of economists.

Retailers’ expectations for March – when non-essential shops will remain closed to the public as part of lockdown measures – fell to -62, the lowest since the series began in 1983.

In another sign of a changing consumer habits during lockdown, the survey’s gauge of internet retail sales hit a new record high.

“With lockdown measures still in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” said Ben Jones, principal economist at the CBI.

“Record growth in internet shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in on-line platforms and click-and-collect services may be paying off, but the re-opening of the sector can’t come soon enough to protect jobs and breathe life back into the sector.”

Job losses among retailers accelerated according to a quarterly question in the survey. For the distribution sector as a whole, which includes wholesalers and car dealers, employment fell at a record rate, the CBI survey showed.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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