For many life producers, the Generation Y market segment, comprising those born between 1978 and 1994, represents a singular paradox. This younger generation represents a massive business opportunity with a substantial lifetime value. With approximately 70 million people, it is the largest generation since the baby boomers. Yet, those in Generation Y communicate and do business in unique ways, which can make them elusive as prospective life insurance buyers.
Editor’s note: There is no single universally accepted range of years to define when members of Gen Y or the Millennial Generation were born. Using different time periods can greatly alter the generation’s total population.
Direct, but don’t dictate. Members of Generation Y want to feel as if they are in control — whether this involves learning about life insurance products or making key decisions about what types or amounts to buy. To be clear, they don’t claim to be experts. A 2010 LIMRA study found 31% of Generation Y respondents admitted not knowing which insurance products they needed, a far cry from the mere 13% of baby boomers who admit such a knowledge gap. Still, members of Generation Y typically do not like to be told what they need. Rather, they would like to be coached through a process that lets them discover what’s right for them. Producers who can play the role of “driving instructor” — encouraging and informing from the passenger’s seat — will be positioned to build strong relationships with Generation Y clients. Gen Yers tend to use technology for most of their communications and social interactions. If a producer uses technology screens to walk through insurance information, these clients will likely be more comfortable asking questions and sharing information. Even though the interaction is in person, it is using technology as a central part of the dialogue.
Make your web experience simpler. Like it or not, the life insurance sales process is being judged against that of other financial and non-financial products. It’s being judged against the elegant and speedy process offered by many online retailers. It’s being judged by how easy it is for them to gather information about insurance products through social media outlets. Generation Y tends to prefer to hear the end result first, followed by the explanation in simple, short sentences, bullet points, or just a few key words or phrases that get the main points across quickly. Generation Y wants to go online and instantly understand what you’re selling and why it’s something they personally should consider buying. Then, with a few clicks, these prospects want to be able to narrow down options to see what they’ll get for their dollars. To see where your opportunities for improvement might lie, perhaps you might engage a sampling of Gen Y members to test drive your website and give you feedback. The tips they’ll provide will be invaluable.
Don’t make them wait. It seems the younger people are, the higher their expectations for speedy delivery of services. Thus, the delay between application for life coverage and issuance of the policy can be frustrating. Clearly, because life insurance is predicated upon purchasing dollars of death benefit with pennies of premium, insurers must demonstrate enough underwriting diligence to avoid adverse selection. While, for now, some delay is inevitable, producers can provide updates — like the progress bar we see when downloading programs — so the Generation Y client knows things are moving forward. They will be happier if the process seems to be automated — even if it requires decidedly un-automated, manual work behind the scenes on a producer’s part.