ITL #557   No really, it’s not about you: a health insurance lesson from Mexico

6 months, 1 week ago

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PR can play a crucial role in making essential services relevant in growth markets. By Roger Darashah.



If I were to offer a single piece of advice to brands looking to grow their respective markets (as opposed to simply stealing existing market share), it would be this:  remember, it’s not about you. . .

 

Unpalatable as it appears, this advice is one which certain sections of the marketing community have understood and embraced with enthusiasm, but which the PR industry resolutely refuses to concede.

 

Health insurance provides the perfect case in point. In Mexico less than 3% of the population is currently covered by any form of private healthcare. According to the OECD, nearly a third of private health spending in Latin America was unplanned and paid for directly by the recipient (or family).  This compares to an OECD average of just 20%. The same research calculates that approximately 1.7% of the population ‘became poor’ as a result, while up to 12.7% was ‘pushed further below the poverty line’.

 

Private health insurance is clearly a societal good, providing families with healthcare (beyond the most basic covered by the state). But despite decades of availability in the market – most notably through private employers – less than 3% of the population is minded or able to secure cover.

 

There are multiple reasons behind this reality, ranging from disposable income to social attitudes. But one conclusion is inescapable – if the majority of the population believes that health insurance is irrelevant, then talking about health insurance is not going to convince them otherwise. 

 

This is worth repeating: if the product you are talking about generates nothing more than indifference, maybe you should change what you are talking about.

 

What this means for sectors such as insurance in markets with traditionally low levels of penetration is equally profound; if your product does not interest your target audience, then maybe you should find something that does. And your audience would be a good place to start!

 

Aiming to hit the target in Liga MX

The Mexican national soccer league is currently sponsored by nearly 200 brands across various clubs and competitions. Sponsoring brands range from airlines (Etihad) to software support (TeamViewer); few of them have any direct relationship to football, or even sport in general. But what justifies these colossal investments is the presence and proximity of their respective target audiences…potential customers.

 

The private insurance sector is set to take off in Latin America driven by technology; according LATAM Insurtech Journey, 352 insurtechs currently operate in Latin American, including 82 in Mexico, with innovative services ranging from prospection to fulfilment.

 

May this be the moment that the sector – and our profession – finally absorbs this reality. For over a century, providers have been offering private insurance in Mexico.  To date, less than 5% of Mexicans have taken them up on their offer. Maybe it’s time to stop talking about insurance.

 

Football sponsorships offers the most direct example of this approach, simply associating with your audience, relating to your customers and potential customers on their terms, about the issues than interest them can dramatically decrease a brands cost of sales.  And this is particularly the case with products and service that would otherwise generate little interest or enthusiasm – remote hardware configuration, anyone?

 

PR offers the most immediate (and, I would argue, authentic) way for brands to engage audiences about what interests them; but the advice I mentioned at the beginning remains fundamental. 

 

Just like in any relationship, the brand needs to demonstrate an interest about its audiences’ concerns; in Mexico, at least, they are unlikely to revolve around health insurance! 

 

Finding areas of common interest

And this is where PR is so adept at finding ‘intersections’ between a brand’s audience and its proposition; genuine areas of common interest that can forge a relationship.  These can’t be imposed – most audiences remain wary of being sold to, particularly if the product in question is of no prior interest (certainly the case with insurance in Mexico) – but naturally and genuinely introduced; just like in any conversation.

 

Indifference remains the most formidable of enemies, and one which can’t be mitigated by simply ‘turning up the volume’. 

 

Mexico is just one example; if the insurance gap and its consequences are to be addressed across Latin America, it’s crucial that the new and affordable tech-enabled offerings are presented in a manner that consumers find relevant.

 

 And that may mean – at the beginning, at least – it can’t just be about the brand. 

 

 

 


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The Author

Roger Darashah

Roger Darashah, Co-founder & Director, LatAm Intersect PR.

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