Against all odds, the consumers‘ decision for a health insurance is much less rational than so far assumed. Au contraire: It arouses strong emotions in the consumers.
High health costs, which cause people to change their health insurance provider, is one of the most discussed subjects of today’s politics and concerns the main part of the Swiss population. The discussion is mostly carried out on a purely rational level. Looking at the Comparis Web site, for example, it is based mainly on costeffectiveness considerations and assumes rational decision makers. The same is valid for the presentation of most insurance products.The wide range of health insurances and the domination of emotions in decisions in general, however, prevents us from acting purely rationally. This is shown by a trial carried out in the framework of a thesis at the Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW) which, by means of an „EmoCompass“ of the Zurich consulting firm Zutt & Partner – EmoConsulting, has analyzed how emotions influence the selection process of health insurance products.
Necessity v. „luxury goods“
The analysis concerning health insurances, in spite of the unprompted way of questioning, has provoked a very high measure of general emotionality in the test persons. This is a clear sign for the fact that the subject health insurance strongly activates the human emotionalsystem, and that the decision about the health insurance is made in connection with cognitive processes in our brain.
This measurement could demonstrate that there are clear differences between emotions towards the obligatory basic insurance and emotions towards the voluntary additional insurance. Contrary to the usual expectations, products of the basic insurance do cause clear emotions, too. This means, both kinds of insurances each cover one part of the total sensations towards all aspects of health insurances. According to this total of sensations, insurances against illness are something precious and important. As to additional insurances, it seems to be important that providers leave a trustworthy impression, while the basic insurance appears powerful and dynamic. This could also be due to the large media coverage and permanent up-to-dateness of the subject of basic insurance. The difference makes clear that our emotional value system classifies the risks of both kinds of insurances differently. Basic insurances are a necessity, while additional insurances are rather “luxury goods”, which cause emotions of trust and calmness. As far as this is concerned, information search and buying behaviour for basic and additional insurances can differ significantly and demand distinct kinds of customer addresses.
The decision about thehealth insurance is madein connection withcognitive processes inour brain.
Identical worlds of emotions
Compared with men, women have less intense emotions towards the basic insurance. As to the additional insurances, the gender-specific outlines are more or less congruent. Concerning health insurances as overall performance, the worlds of emotions diverge again. For women, the subject is more cheerful and less serious, but also less profiled and less unambiguous. The process of choice over services such as Comparis is experienced emotionally more or less like the obligatory health insurance, even though additional nsurances can be analyzed on Comparis, too. An explanation could be that the emphasized objectiveness and focus on costs of such comparing services are more applicable to basic insurances, without addressing the emotional scope of the additional insurance. The comparison of means of communication of two insurances with different concepts of communication has shown that both insurances arouse almost identical worlds of emotions in the test persons. This means that both insurances are not able to differentiate clearly from each other. Furthermore, the shown advertisements of both insurances have caused little emotions.
New scopes of action
The results of the trial clearly show that today the profile of the address of insurance clients is not emotionalized enough, and thus, an opportunity is missed to start from where the customers stand with their scopes of sensations with regard to insurance products. For insurances which, besides the necessary view of the product which is very much based on ratio, resp. cost-effectiveness, also include a market-based resp. customer view into their range of products, a scope of action is gained to promote their products differently than in the past and to create an emotionally independent range of products in times of great cost pressure and high density of competitors.
Karin Jeker Weber, Dr., is the general manager of the strategy and marketing consultancy « All about Markketing – Strategic Coaching Services» and has supervised this thesis in the framework of her work as a lecturer at the Zürcher Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW) Philipp Zutt, lic. oec. publ., is the general manager of
Zutt & Partner – EmoConsulting.