ASSESSING BROKERS’ NEEDS FOR VOLUNTARY BENEFITS SOLUTIONS VIA MULTI-METHOD RESEARCH
What do you do when you need to change your business model, but doing so would mean courting a new type of audience? How would you quickly learn about this target market, their needs and wants, and what types of messages would most strongly attract them to your brand?
Our client, a voluntary benefits insurance carrier, wanted to launch an enhanced business model that would change how their products were offered to brokers. As a result, they needed to develop strategies to market toward a new audience of brokers. As they had not previously worked with this group of brokers, they wanted to gain deeper insight into this audience, including their needs and desires for voluntary benefits solutions. Additionally, the client sought feedback for several value propositions they had created.
We conducted a multi-phase qualitative and quantitative research program to understand these brokers’ needs and wants for voluntary benefits carriers and solutions. As a result, our client gained a better understanding of their new target market, as well as several opportunity areas and strategies to help them win in the voluntary benefits market.
Our client, an insurance carrier offering life, accident, disability, and other voluntary benefits solutions, sought to launch an enhanced business model where their offerings would be sold in a group fashion, rather than individually. This change would necessitate attracting a new audience of brokers to the brand. As such, our client wanted to conduct research to better understand the needs of this new target audience, as well as which of their proposed value propositions would most resonate.
Through primary market research, our client wanted to learn:
- What was important to brokers when selecting and recommending insurance carriers to their clients;
- How the client could challenge their competitors; and
- How, if at all, this new target group of brokers differed from current broker customers?
To better understand this target audience, C+R created a multi-phase qual-and-quant research agenda. We began with a kick-off meeting between the client and research teams to assess what was already known and to develop hypotheses to test in the research. We also discussed relevant market trends and confirmed the next steps, responsibilities, and timing.
Next, we conducted qualitative webcam-based interviews with 12 brokers – some who were current clients and some who were members of our client’s new broker target. The brokers were located across the United States, and all sold benefits to companies with at least 100 employees. Each interview lasted 60 minutes. During this time, we were able to dive deep into their needs and wants regarding selling voluntary benefits to their customers and determine which of our client’s value propositions resonated most strongly. We also learned more about whitespace opportunities our client could help to fill in order to separate them from their competitors.
In the final quantitative phase, we created a self-administered online survey to validate the qualitative findings and to inform our client’s business decisions. We sent the survey to 200 brokers; all had worked full-time in their current role for at least a year and sold voluntary benefits products to companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. The survey took approximately 10 minutes to complete. Via the survey, we learned more about the respondents’ perceptions of various benefits carriers – our client and competitors – and their satisfaction levels with these carriers. We also asked them to evaluate our client’s value propositions and identify the one that resonated the most.
As a result of this research, our client heard directly (via qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys) from several hundred brokers in their target audience. They learned more about these brokers’ unique needs in the insurance category, as well as the drivers and barriers to recommending insurance products to their clients. Additionally, our client learned of several key opportunity “white space” areas. Overall, these insights helped them develop strategies to enable them to win in the voluntary benefits market.