From the August 01, 2012 issue of Life Insurance Selling

Boomers: Not One Size Fits All

You can’t put baby in a corner, and you can’t put baby boomers in one giant group. A look at the different needs and possible product solutions for various boomers.

Boomers range in age from 45 to 65, so attracting them and selling to them presents a broad range of challenges. At the risk of stating the blinding obvious: they are not a homogeneous group, and they have had their lives shaped by very different life experiences. Therefore, we can’t make the assumption that one method, one message and one product will be attractive to all boomers.

When we read about generational marketing, most demographers look at the traditionals (67-plus), the boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y (or the Millenials). But, in reality, the boomers are not one segment; they’re at least three. For insurance purposes, we like to think of the boomer generation as three distinct segments that break down roughly into ages 45-54, 55-64, and 65-plus. The insurance needs of each of these segments are very different as are the products that will satisfy each of these segment’s needs. The methods to attract them and communicate with them vary as well.

Trailing boomers (Ages 45-54)

The younger group is still very focused on insuring the future of an unpaid mortgage, providing for college tuition or a wedding, and safeguarding the lifestyle of a family or spouse in case of death. They are in relatively good health, are in their peak earning years and are looking for maximum coverage at the most affordable cost. Term insurance is often the best door opener, but it may not be the best buy for the long term, with retirement just beginning to come on their radar.

This is a group that needs to be exposed to the various forms of permanent life and life insurance with a long-term care (LTC) option. Trailing boomers may not buy this product out of the box, but if you are maintaining a customer relationship strategy with them, these products can be introduced as you learn more about their needs and build trust over time. Make no mistake, someone will sell them an annuity or a variable life product — so it might as well be you.

Middle boomers (Ages 55-64)

The middle group currently ranks as the largest boomer segment, with some very specific needs emerging. This group has many of the same needs as the trailing boomers but now has retirement clearly on the radar. They’re thinking about how life will be at 70 and beyond. Despite this, the R-word is not really in their vocabulary, and speaking about it directly can be a major turn off. Think “long-term security.”

Middle boomers may have more difficulty getting insurance at favorable rates due to the inevitable health issues that crop up with age, which may hinder the sales process. These health issues are usually not life or death — just the stuff that happens as we age, like high blood pressure, sleep disorders, bladder problems, etc. — but they’ll often move this boomer segment out of the preferred rating tiers.

Leading edge boomers (Ages 65-plus)

The leading edge boomers are facing the need to put their own money toward health insurance in ways they have never considered. For the most part, they have been in the womb of their corporations and the health plans those companies provided. Now they need to make this choice all on their own and put all their money toward the premiums. So, selling to this group requires knowledge of their Medicare needs. You may also need to make adjustments to their life insurance coverages based on their current debt, their family situation and their state of health.

When working with this 65-plus market, there are several things to take into consideration. If they are long-time clients, you are likely all over what they need and when they need it. You are ready to reshape their coverages to fit their current life stage.

On the other hand, prospecting in this group is best done with a Medicare-related introduction followed by a coverage review and recommendation. That $500,000 term policy may no longer be required to cover a mortgage or college or weddings. Perhaps a down-sell on their life coverage, facilitating a conversion to a permanent policy and/or consideration of LTC or a variant will go hand in hand with good advice on what they should do about Medicare-related products.

Marketing to boomers

Whether your customers are new or existing, you want to foster the idea of being their friend and advisor, rather than an insurance sales person. You need to listen to what they say and how they describe their needs. A good doctor can only prescribe the right medicines or lifestyle changes if he actually knows what’s going on with his patient. A good advisor also needs to have a solid understanding of his clients’ life stages and needs in order to suggest the right product solutions for them. A quick sale without really understanding client needs is likely to lead to a short-term relationship or the end of a long-term one.

So, we’re clear that all boomers are not created equal. There are three distinct segments that require different messaging — in advertising (direct mail allows you to change the messages and images for each segment), on the Web (again, capture the visitor’s age and serve up different pages to each self-identified person) and what you say across the kitchen table or on the phone.

Knowing how to attract, listen and sell to boomers takes some finesse. They want your attention, and they want your advice. You just need to get in front of them with the right message at the right time — and have your full portfolio of products at the ready. Knowing that you’re really dealing with three segments within this segment is what will insure your success.

 

 

 

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