Insurance marketing: Springboard or career break?

By Thomas Barta
Last updated: December 03, 2012

The meaning of marketing in the changing insurance sector. Like other industries, the insurance sector recognizes the rising power of consumers and the individualization of their demands. It has responded by boosting its marketing activities and enhancing customer orientation. But does this mean that the customer is now king for insurers? Has a shift from traditional product orientation to customer orientation already taken place? And what does this mean in terms of career opportunities for marketing specialists in the insurance industry? Can a management position in marketing act as a springboard for a career leading to the top?

In its study “Challenges on the way to marketing excellence” Egon Zehnder International investigates the transformation of marketing in the insurance industry, with a focus on career development and opportunities.

During the period from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2012 the study’s authors, Wiebke Köhler and Dietmar Austrup, both consultants at Egon Zehnder International, surveyed thirteen leading insurers based in Germany, which account for a combined total of 66 percent of the German insurance market. The study’s results show that the industry still has a long way to go along the path to marketing excellence and faces a series of challenges.

Although companies recognize the rising importance of customer orientation and differentiated market development, marketing still isn’t represented at board level. The role of marketing as an information supplier in the company has been strengthened and it also increasingly participating in product development. But marketing specialists remain excluded from the final decision-making process, weakening perceptions of their assertiveness within the company. There is also no tracking of marketing’s influence on corporate success. In most cases, marketing is still seen as a support function and a “cost center”, which are both important functions, but have no strategic influence over market success.

Insurers have grasped the importance of the increasingly individual and independent customer –they understand this concept in their heads, but do not seem to have taken it to heart. They should also work harder at harnessing marketing’s potential to produce success and turning the function into a career path that can lead to the top. The study confirms that companies need to take steps in this direction both within their marketing departments and at the highest corporate level.