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Segmenting Consumer Markets in the Health Insurance Industry

Dartboard with a single dart in the bullseyeIt's no surprise that segmenting consumer markets allows the health insurance industry to target uninsured Americans with greater accuracy, but insurers must be careful to avoid the temptation of treating all uninsureds the same.

One of the largest targets, and greatest challenges, for health insurance companies is those people we call “Willful Endurers.”This health insurance segmentation is the people who, for whatever set of reasons, seem determined not to get involved with the world of health insurance.

“Willful” because their health behaviors can be frustratingly difficult to change, and they’re “Endurers” who continue on despite any health obstacles.

So why do we care about this health insurance segmentation?

For one thing, with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, these people will be required by law to carry some form of insurance. It may be comparatively modest coverage, but their plans still must fulfill all the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  Moreover, the sheer number of uninsureds in the “Willful Endurer” segment of the population makes these potential members worth considering.

According to our current healthcare market research, they represent 27% of the potential healthcare consuming public and 39% of the uninsured population in the nation.

Graph of the insured and uninsured consumer segments in the US.

And that’s why those of us in the healthcare industry, and health insurers in particular, can’t afford to ignore them when segmenting consumer markets to target.

But this doesn’t solve the problem of how we might reach this health insurance segmentation or, perhaps more importantly, answer the question of how Willful Endurers will go about finding health insurance once they realize that they must acquire it.

Discovering the answer to that question is key to our healthcare marketing strategies. Only after we know where they are looking can we begin to devise ways of ensuring that we are in those places where this group will find us.

Start with what you know.

There are a few things that we can say for sure about the typical Willful Endurer.

  • They’re younger
  • Many are unattached
  • They like to think of themselves as independent thinkers
  • They’re self-described couch-potatoes
  • They tend to be male.

Combine these characteristics into a single archetypal persona and you find an individual who spends a great deal of time online.

Now apply it to your messaging strategy.

If ever there were an occasion to beef up your social media presence, this is it.

Twitter and Facebook are places to start, for sure, but not with your usual sales pitches. Overt selling in situations like this isn’t going to get you much traction with this group. They inherently distrust big companies with whom they don’t already have a solid relationship.

Instead, think about offering up your services and web sites as sources of information. Obviously, your goal is eventually to make the Willful information-seeker a customer. But as “independent-thinkers,” the Willful Endurer is resistant to a hard sell that makes an overt demand.

However, as much as this group thinks of themselves as knowledgeable and filled with information, buying health insurance on the open market is something very few of them have ever had to do before. If you can be there as a counselor, you are very likely to end up as a provider, too.

Investigate other venues.

There are many, many other social media forums that you could utilize in addition to Facebook or Twitter.

Google +, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon — all are enormously popular sites where consumers who could become new members spend a prodigious amount of time. It is certainly worth an open-minded investigation to see if there might be some opportunity for you to create a marketing campaign that utilizes these services as a platform from which you can build a relationship with potential members.

Know what to say.

Similarly, the Internet is abuzz with lists these days. Not just Top 10s or end-of-year lists. It seems that visitors to web sites as wildly different as Buzz feed and Forbes can’t get enough of lists.

Just take a look at the headlines on Buzzfeed’s home page:

  • “11 Reasons Why Finals Are Actually the Best.”
  • “13 Savory Dishes to Make With Roasted Pumpkin.”
  • “22 Indications That Your Competitiveness Is Out Of Control.”

And on Forbes’ site, there is a seemingly endless flow of lists rating cities, baseball salaries, business schools and on and on and on.

You can capitalize on this trend.

Willful Endurers respond best to information that is provided in actionable, bite-size chunks. Share a list of the 10 most confusing things about the ACA, the top 10 reasons 20somethings don’t understand health insurance, or 12 things parents know about healthcare that their kids don’t.

The more active you are in creating and sharing lists like these on your webs sites or through your different social media channels, the more interest you will start to see from Willful Endurers.

With health insurance segmentation strategies like these, you may soon find this resistant group turning into loyal members.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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