An often-followed axiom by marketers and investors is that best opportunities are in market segments with significant upside opportunity for growth. One does not need to be a market leader to benefit from riding the wave with others in the expanding markets. As an associate once stated to me: ‘it is easier to grow in a growing market’.
Reading Kenneth Gronbach’s The Age Curve: How to Profit From the Demographic Storm validates why there is so much interest in insurance products geared toward the Baby Boomers. Gronbach provides demographic data, similar to what has been reported by many sources over the last several years, and explains about the generational and stages of life implications to society and businesses. Per Gronbach’s definition of Baby Boomers, we are almost 10 years into having Baby Boomers reach age 65 and the historically high levels of people turning age 65 each year will continue for many more years. Facing challenges in many other market segments attributed to lower profit margins and declining sales, insurers and investors are looking for opportunities to deploy capital. The Baby Boomer market segment with its total net worth and population numbers catches a lot of attention.
For decades, the insurance industry has provided products and services designed for the older adults market with products such as Medicare Supplement medical products and Final Expense life products. Current players and new entrants are contemplating how they can benefit from the wave of population growth in the retiree and near retiree market segments. Will they double down on traditional models? Will they seek out innovative and evolving practices? Or will they be looking for market disruptors? Will it be a multifaceted approach?
The past offers many lessons regarding the factors that had contributed to successes and failures. However, Baby Boomers do not necessarily bring the same expectations and values to purchasing decisions as the prior generations. And entrepreneurs and applications of new technology are challenging the status quo.
The data shows opportunities are ahead of us. The current state of the market can be attractive to new entrants. Unless there is a macro change dictated by government regulations, the pace of change in this market segment will probably be more of an evolution then a revolution. Opportunities will exist both in traditional products and sales channels, and be available to those embracing innovation.
When evaluating entry into new products, it is beneficial to understand the objectives to be satisfied and the options to get you there. Some of the questions to ask regarding the objectives may include:
Is this an opportunity to improve the deployment of capital?
What are threshold financial objectives that need to be attained?
Is this part of a long-term market strategy to have and maintain a presence in the market segment?
Do you see opportunity to win business with differentiating value?
How well will this align with other products, markets and systems currently or planned to be supported?
What are the risk considerations regarding sales levels, insurance volatility, and operations?
Once the objectives are better defined, the options to create the project roadmap for the new product can be more effectively identified and assessed. Considerations include in-house versus outsourced solutions, start up costs, speed to market and speed to ramp up distribution, distribution channel selection and management, and organizational structure with assigned accountabilities.
The growing population segment and the consumer needs validate the opportunity for revenue growth with insurance products in the older adults market. Asking good questions and thoughtful assessment upfront will enhance the propensity for success. It may be easier to grow your revenue in this segment than other market segments. It may be easier but not necessarily easy.
Source for US Population Projections: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Original release date: March 2018. Revised release date: September 2018