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Brand Strategy For Healthcare

Positioning Health Insurance Brands


No doubt, it will be fascinating to witness in the coming year the machinations of health insurance marketers as they create competitive advantage for their brands against the backdrop of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare implementation.

The good news for health insurance brands is they will have many more customers as the law mandates everyone must have health insurance coverage. The bad news for health insurance marketers is their offerings (as mandated by the law) will be pretty much the same – the only perceivable difference between them is the tiered “good, better, best” pricing structure the government allows.

And lets face it; price is the only thing that matters to consumers when it comes to health insurance coverage. Especially those consumers (think small business owners) who happen to own individual plans. For many people, the role of price is the main brand driver.

Of course, we all know that positioning brands for competitive advantage is a head game. As the well-worn phrase goes, the value of a brand, “lives in the mind” not in your branding.

In the age clutter and social media transparency, consumers are caring less about marketing and more about community and shared values. Brands that fail this price of entry won’t be able to even get in the game.

Profound Implications For Health Insurance Marketers

For health care marketers, who have traditionally had a B2B orientation, the time to evolve is now – as they must market to consumers directly. The target audience has shifted to real people–who historically have not had to care much about which provider is chosen. Their employer made that decision.

Now consumers, millennials in particular, will have to make more direct choices about their health insurance provider. These consumers will choose their provider based on more emotive and elusive reasons then the content of their policy, the amount of their deductible, and its monthly or annual out of pocket cost.

If you are a health insurance marketer right now, you’ve probably wondered “how are we going to get these consumers to care about us?” or, “what do we need to be doing for them right now that will influence their choice – then choose us?”

The Affordable Care Act may have a beneficial impact in the marketplace. Now faceless health insurance companies are going to have to be thinking more about community and serving people rather than mitigating their risk.

Don’t get me wrong; this does not minimize the important fact that large global organizations are making tectonic shifts in their entire business model right now. There must be a financial profit to owners, investors and employees who will deliver the service.

There’s No Free Lunch

The Affordable Care Act has removed “product innovation” as a point of difference in value creation. The law, in effect, levels the playing field of the competitors to bring more value to the consumer. Everything is now good and the same.

No doubt we will soon see a plethora of health coverage marketing campaigns touting warm and fuzzy visuals making claims about “caring more about you”.

Those health insurance marketers who fail to behave in ways that make a real and perceived difference in the lives of people before they become a mandated customer will pay a steep price.

I suggest health insurance marketers begin to formulate their answer to this critical question:

What difference does our brand make in the world that is highly valued by people and not in abundant supply from our competitors?

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