30th September 2016

REaD Group are delighted to named as winner of the Outstanding Data Focused Agency award at 2016 Database Marketing Awards. Celebrating the very best of data-led marketing, the award was presented to CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez at a glittering ceremony hosted by Bill Turnbull.  Organised by Database Marketing magazine, the oldest and now only specialised title serving the industry, the Awards are a well-established highlight of the calendar.

Being recognised as the best in class for data-focus is the culmination of a period of reinvention, innovation and drive for excellence at REaD Group – driven by the evolution of the data marketing landscape and the changing needs of our clients.

So why did we win?

Data sits at the heart of everything that we do. Our UK consumer knowledgebase, developed over the last two years, The Oracle, has taken data understanding to a whole new level. A data source that compiles the industries most respected data sources into one place – Active, Acxiom, two consumer information services and many others. That data is fixed at the most robust place – the home address – then extrapolated across email, social media, mobile, direct mail and web behaviour.
Our data has transformed the way in which our clients are able to view and understand their customers and prospects.
We have built technology that exploits our award winning hygiene suite, Qinetic, so that our data asset self-perpetuates with new occupiers, move to addresses and the flagging of deceased and Gone Aways from the file.

The result being the most up to date and accurate collection of data in the UK.

We delivery an analytical solution that influences, with confidence, our clients’ communication strategies. This allows our clients to truly integrate campaigns, interpret that reaction and actions from one channel across to another, whilst using this data to deliver better outcomes for consumers and brands.

Retention is more important than ever – our insight allows our clients to treat every customer as an individual, driving engagement and adding value.

Combining these robust services represent the bedrock of modern database marketing and ideally positions REaD Group to provide bespoke solutions across many sectors and brands.

Contact our team today to find out how we can help you achieve success from your data.

red lights

16th August 2016

Bringing together research from both You Gov and REaD Group to analyse the problem faced by insurers today, this report explores ways in which this can be overcome and – ultimately – recognise and draw out opportunities for businesses to increase their value and surmount the disruption caused by aggregators.

 Introduction
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In 2016, being a direct insurer in a world dominated by aggregators is tough. What was once an industry commonly buffered by brokers and advisors is increasingly at the direct mercy of the individual. Consumers can – and will – delve deep into the market and switch providers at ease.

Many independent bodies support this course of action; endlessly encouraging customers to shop around to get a better deal, often at the expense of true and lasting value. Insurance brands using these sites have become little more than logos against competing costs, and a commoditised market leaves scarce room for innovation and growth. The aggregators are suffocating brand identity and values. It’s time for insurers to take back the relationship with their customers.

What’s more, aggregators are going to be in very hot water come 2018 when the new General Data Protection Regulation comes into play; a piece of legislation will fundamentally change the way businesses can collect, store and use customer data. Insurers simply cannot afford to be over-reliant for much longer and must take this as an opportunity to transform the current model and reclaim the market. It’s high time insurers return to dealing direct with customers and putting people before the policy.

Bringing together research from both YouGov and REaD Group[i] to analyse the problem faced by insurers today, this report explores ways in which this can be overcome and – ultimately – recognise and draw out the opportunity for businesses to increase their value and surmount the disruption caused by aggregators. It’s time to put the Meerkat back in his cage.

 State of play

The dominance of aggregators is at an all time high, with brand awareness soaring through the roof for the top brands. The vast majority of the UK public have heard of Moneysupermarket (88%) GoCompare (87%) and Comparethemarket (86%).

Meanwhile, brand awareness of the longstanding, traditional insurance providers pales in comparison: only 24% of people have heard of RSA and 37% AIG, for example.

There is no doubt that aggregators have disrupted the sector enormously, leaving behind a fragmented market and a new kind of clientele: the switch-happy consumer.

Of the people we surveyed, 70% stated that they find the process of buying insurance simple and only 20% confirmed they would be unlikely to switch within the year; with the majority undecided and open to changing providers.

What’s more, the current environment has affected consumers’ core motivations when it comes to choosing a policy or provider: for eight out of 10 people, price is the primary factor.

This renders the relationship between insurance brands and their consumer near-on over. With only 10% of shoppers citing brand loyalty as a key factor in their decision-making, customer retention – however attractive a marketing objective – is effectively dead.

The opportunity for change

Things must change. The onus is now on insurance brands to win back the relationship with their customers and ensure they are maximising the opportunities available to them. In light of this, REaD Group’s team of data consultants has identified a consumer-centric solution available to insurers enabling them to return true and lasting value to their business.

Turn the policy model on its head

The ‘Uberisation’ of the business world has fashioned a new set of consumer priorities. Shoppers, whether in the market for insurance or groceries will often shop along the path of least resistance. REaD Group’s research shows that there are no longer obvious pathways to purchase. Attempting to coerce consumers into one-size-fits-all portfolio of policies is a model of a bygone age. And it is broken.

Businesses, in any industry, which sell products in isolation will soon be left behind. In this environment, there is an enormous opportunity for insurers to offer long-term value, which aggregators simply cannot provide. And it starts with the consumer.

Putting the individual at the heart of your offering is the key to success in the insurance market. But the policies we see offered by insurers still show a dangerous lack of understanding of the consumer psyche: what they want, need and expect out of businesses.

Insurers must have a comprehensive understanding of the customer they are courting.

They must offer them a long-term solution dependent on who they are, their life stages, their needs as they grow up.

Great grocery retailers don’t see a consumer in the market for an alcoholic drink, they see a woman agonising over what to bring to a dinner party.  Google doesn’t see a person who wants to search the Internet, they see a man desperate to find an answer.

Microsoft sees a graduate who dreams of becoming a business leader; O2 sees a teenager who wants to be taken seriously, Gillette sees a young man preparing for his first date, Ikea sees a cash-strapped young couple moving into a tiny studio.

Insurers need to begin thinking exactly the same way: developing a new kind of intelligent service which people will want to buy into. Through this, they can start to establish themselves as a partner, a trusted advisor; and bring the value back to their brand.

The right data, the right intelligence, can help insurers find the new customers they want, develop valued relationships with the ones they have, retain the ones they want to keep.

Insurers need to start asking the right questions.

Who are they? Where do they transact? How is it best to engage with them? What will excite them? Are they connected with my brand? What level of cover do they need? What is their preferred channel of communication?

 It is now possible to combine demographic and lifestyle characteristics with purchasing patterns from the past 12 months, making it a highly predictive tool for the insurance sector and far more effective than traditional geo-demographic segmentation.

This knowledge should go much deeper than the marketing department, embedded right across the business. Companies need to understand how to customise, and therefore optimise, the services they offer to consumers. Understanding them is the very first step.

 Customer profiles – understanding the individual

REaD Group’s proprietary tools have identified four clusters of insurance customers, based on the pool of respondents from the panel study, which make up 75% of the entire market.

These have been profiled against all available demographic and insurance variables, as well as transactional data to provide insurance companies a starting point in creating a blueprint for innovation in their sector.

‘Mandatory minimums’

Mostly young (18-44), single and male, these consumers require the bare-minimum from insurance providers (basic motor cover, for example).

Where insurance is necessary, the Mandatory Minimums are most likely to purchase direct from the provider, using a combination of friends, family and internet research as tools to find the best deal.

They find the process simple and aren’t likely to spend much time reviewing all their policy options. Insurance is simply a necessary evil that gets in the way of life. At most, they spend about two hours researching car insurance to find the cheapest deal, but when it comes to other products such as life insurance, they spend a mere 30 minutes.

How to engage with them:

Insures need to capitalise on the attitude of this consumer group. Offering them cheap car insurance deals bundled with other necessary products such as home insurance, will satisfy their needs to cover the basics at minimum cost and effort.

This digital native group has a preference for email as a method of contact and never want to be contacted by phone. Insurers should consider utilising digital channels to communicate with this social-media friendly group, with postal mail as a back-up.

Mandatory Minimums are typically interested in sport, going out with friends and having fun, so insurers will do well to offer lifestyle perks and rewards that will make purchasing insurance less of a drag.

Building positive relationships with Mandatory Minimums at this stage could prove beneficial as they eventually mature and transition into ‘Worth Its’. Read on to find out about them.  

‘Influencers’

Part time or unemployed females comprise the majority of this group. Either co-habiting or married with children, they tend not to own a great deal of policies personally, but pet insurance is the most prevalent.

Though not the primary purchaser of insurance products for their household, Influencers still play an important contributory role in the decision making process. They will often consult friends and family for advice and are likely to make recommendations to the ultimate policy purchaser; most commonly their husband or partner.

Out of the four clusters, Influencers are the most likely to find the process of buying insurance confusing, and will use aggregators for all insurance policies purchased.

How to engage with them:

Influencers’ natural urge is to use aggregators so insurance companies need to use simple, clear instructions when communicating with this group. Though influencers are not primary purchasers of insurance within their household, they consider themselves as key decision makers in the process, so should be treated as such. Influencers have no explicit preference on how they would like to be contacted, however, they tend to use Facebook a lot, so social media presents a useful tool to get buy in from this group.  A lot of their interests and activities are family focussed so messaging should centre around this.

‘Worth-Its’

Predominately middle-aged and male, the Worth-It’s are often heavily insured, keen to protect assets accumulated over the course of their working life. They will find the process of buying insurance very simple and be prepared to switch regularly to find the best value.

Married with children, and working full time, they are likely to own every insurance type, but approach each differently.

For home insurance, Worth-its will use a combination of friends, family and the internet for research purposes, spending approximately two hours researching, before ultimately turning to an aggregator for purchase.

Decisions on car insurance sees Worth-its spend much less time researching (approximately 30 minutes) going on to use either a broker or an aggregator.

Travel Insurance: goes direct or uses the internet for research purposes, spends approximately 30 mins researching, then uses an aggregator or goes direct to purchase.

When considering life insurance policies, perhaps the most important for Worth-Its, a variety of research tools are exploited over the course of two hours or more. Starting first on the internet and in some cases contacting insurers direct to compare quotes, they will then use a broker/aggregator to purchase.

How to engage with them:

The switch-happy ‘Worth it’ has significant lifetime value for an insurer, if only he can be retained. He is a key example of why insurers should move away from product marketing and instead take a much more holistic approach. By focussing on the needs of the entire household, insurers should offer as much as possible in one package to appeal to this type of consumer.

Any communication needs to centre on the family and security, with email and telephone being the preferred method of contact for this group.

Remember: value driven ‘Worth Its’ are confident, well informed and not afraid to spend time shopping around for better deals. Insurers need to make sure they are fully up to speed with the changing needs of this consumer group and be on hand to offer additional value on an ongoing basis.

‘OAPs (Over-Assured Pensioners)’

Post-family Over-Assured-Pensioners are aged 55 and older, and comprise slightly more females than males.

Retired, perhaps widowed, with no dependent children, the OAPs are regional dwellers with every type of insurance available. They realise they are getting older and need more protection.

Unlike the Worth-Its, they approach the process in a similar way regardless of the type of policy.

Light or non-users of social media and the internet, OAPs are legacy insurance customers who rely on newspapers, advertisements and other media material to research policies before going direct or through a broker to purchase – a process they find very confusing.

How to engage with them:

The nature of OAPs means it is crucial that insurers value them not just in terms of what they might buy, but also in terms of their influence over others. They are extremely social and will be vocal in making recommendations to friends and family based on their own experience. It is therefore imperative that the service they receive is top-notch so that they talk positively about the brand.

Expectedly, their preferred methods of contact are traditional: telephone or post. If nothing else, use these simply to say ‘thank you’ – OAPs appreciate this.

 Headroom for growth: The Uninsured

While exploring the research we identified that there is a huge untapped market for insurers which they can capitalise on if they understand who they are and what makes them tick.

We found that:

  • 22% of the UK are uninsured, representing significant potential for insurers
  • London has the highest uninsured population in the country, with 30% of Londoners holding no policies
  • 51% of students have no insurance, despite being a high risk group for crime
  • 49% of 18-25 year olds own no insurance products
  • Those with less insurance products are highly confused by the process

Conclusion: act now

It’s time for insurers to take control of customer relationships, cut out the middle man and deal direct. If you’re an insurer struggling against the aggregator tide: take this report as a warning. Question your policy model and start building your growth strategy around the customer you want and the customer you can keep.

Profile your customer base using insurance, demographic, lifestyle and transactional characteristics to understand who they are and what they want from you. Personalise your customer acquisition and retention messages, and develop new propositions built around the specific consumer you are targeting. Treat every customer as an individual, keeping up to date with their changing needs and attitudes, and identifying cross and up-sell opportunities in the process.

Work to sustain loyalty from the outset so that when it comes to month eleven, your customers have a solid reason to renew, rather than being lost to irritating jingles and toy rodents.

Now is the time to repair the market and offer something aggregators simply cannot: long term valuable relationships. Simples.

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[i] Research conducted by YouGov surveying 2027 members of the British public during February 2016. Additional data and statistics attributed to REaD Group.

data processors

20th June 2016

Big Data is the phrase on so many decision makers’ lips at the moment. It’s a great term and has been influential in elevating the importance of data, especially around the boardroom table. But to a data expert it’s essentially meaningless.

Why? Because data has always been big. Data – in particular, customer transactional data – has always been a challenge for businesses to deal with. Back in 1992, we spent a massive (for us, at the time) £16,000 on four 1GB hard drives to hold as much information as we could for our clients. These days a portable 8GB drive on Google comes in at £2.99. Data is expansive; as technology evolves to store it, unless managed it will always fill the space available. Previously, we stored what was most relevant as the capacity wasn’t there to store everything and this filtering is still going on to a certain point. It’s not the mountain of data that’s important, it’s the spoonful of gold that we need to harness and act on quickly. There will always be more coming in than companies are capable of dealing with. Because just as the amount of data coming into a business gets larger, and our capacity to collect and analyse it increases, the new technologies and touchpoints to collect it also increase exponentially.

Big Data is big business; it has big implications. It is not, however, new, and it is leading businesses astray. Big Data is a big distraction from the real issue: Fast Data. The speed at which volumes of information come into a company now mean that the vast numbers of data scientists being hired at FTSE 500s around the world find themselves bogged down in the sheer onslaught, unable to find the really important facts in the torrent (the spoonful of gold). In all the fuss over Big Data, the opportunity from Fast Data is being ignored, and this is potentially ruinous. Fast Data is where the action is. Fast Data holds those incredibly valuable hair trigger moments where a company can pinpoint a customer about to leave, and stop them, making them a more loyal contact in the process. Fast Data is where people are browsing for cars online, it is dropped e-shopping baskets. It is the brief moment where decisions are influenced, and it lives only in the now.

So if a business is struggling to deal with its data already being Big, how can it be expected to deal with a 24/7 torrent of Fast Data too? The smart business keeps itself focused. It knows what its objectives are, and will look at the information coming in signalling the trigger points that will help to achieve these. This could be making sure they know when their customers move property so valued contacts are not lost, it could be understanding that a solid retention strategy hinges on spotting just when a customer is looking to defect and knowing what those information patterns look like. A smart business also knows when it may be time to look for help from someone outside its structure, independent from the infrastructure of siloed departments and data streams, that can pull the insightful whole together from many different, disparate parts. Fast Data cannot be slowed; it loses its power. It can however, be filtered and used. And businesses bewildered by Big Data can instead be fuelled and furthered by Fast Data.

bereavement register

10th June 2016

It is estimated that in the twelve months following an individual’s death, a whopping 110 items of marketing can be received in their name. With upwards of 580,000 people dying each year in the UK (based on ONS figures), this amounts to nearly 64 million pieces of unnecessary and damaging, direct mail landing on doormats and in inboxes annually.

Receiving this mail not only upsets the family and relatives of the deceased individual, but also increases the risk of brand damage for an organisation, and creates environmental harm and monetary waste.

To tackle this problem, REaD Group launched The Bereavement Register in 2000 – a continuously evolving marketing suppression list of deceased individuals in the UK. Since then, our team of dedicated TBR heroes work hard to ensure we the UK public is protected from this upsetting side to direct mail.

Since its origin, we have estimated that The Bereavement Register has prevented upwards of half-a-billion items of post being sent to the deceased!

“I understand first-hand the distress caused to bereaved families when direct mail is received after a person has died. I continued to receive mail address to my late wife, Sarah, months after her death. This was upsetting for me, but especially for our young children,” explains Mark Roy, Chairman. “I was in the perfect position to do something about it, and subsequently, TBR was born.”

The service is now used to screen over 70% of all direct mail sent in the UK, and is continuously growing.

TBR has a consumer website and phone number to call, as well as our FREEPOSR TBR Folders, which are distributed to UK Registrars, funeral directors, hospitals, hospices, police liaison officers, solicitors, charities and coroners.

To find out more, please visit www.thebereavementregister.org.uk.

Andy Bridges

14th May 2016

1 – Tell us about yourself – what’s the story so far?

I’ve been involved with data for around 20 years,  staring at a business publishers in SOHO rising to Data Governance lead at one of the leading loyalty companies in the UK .…When I started in data I used  floppy disks that had a mass storage of 240mb!! Not sure if the younger generation know what those are….

2 – Tell us about your role at REaD Group – what does compliance really mean?

Compliance to me is making sure the information we collect , manage and distribute is something we can trust and is fully transparent, in turn that gives our clients confidence, I suppose I’m the ‘ rules and regulation’ man… but let’s be clear I’m not an Auditor!

3 – What changes in the industry can we expect to see in 2016?

We will be hearing more about cybersecurity with cyber-attacks becoming ever more frequent and increasingly damaging. In addition we will also see mobile commerce grow as the desktop loses its primary place.  I also believe the retention, interaction and long-term engagement of consumers will be an even smaller target to hit as we see the rise of the savvy consumer….and what’s going to gain real momentum in 2016 is the impending GDPR.

4 – What inspires you?

People with drive, determination, positive attitudes and to be honest my Dad – he never sits down and just keeps going.

5 – Who has been your business mentor?

There’s a few to mention, so I won’t pick just one… One of those mentors said ‘knowledge is power’ (yes it sounds corny….) but boy has it been true over the years.

6 – What attracted you to the REaD Group?

I’ve had a business relationship with the REaD group for many years and have always been impressed with their skill to keep moving forward and create valuable data driven marketing services for it clients.

7 – What do you like to do in your spare time?

As most people have noticed in the Office – Road Cycling. I love the open road and if I had a time machine I’d go back and be part of the pro peloton!

car driver

2nd May 2016

The cars we drive are becoming more intelligent. In fact, the average family saloon has more computing power than Apollo 11, the ship that first took man to the moon! One major aspect of this intelligence is Telematics, the information your car gathers as it is driven.

Typically, Telematics is any integrated use of telecommunications and information, any data that is gathered and then transmitted for storage and use at a later date. In the automotive sector, Telematics is the more generic word used to describe the data that is generated by a vehicle and sent for analysis and management by the manufacturer, or other interested party.  At present this data is primarily used for logging car performance for manufacturers but it is increasingly also being used to track drivers’ habits for insurance companies

In regular surveys, over 80% of people believe themselves to be good drivers. Sadly, most insurance companies don’t agree with this and many of us still feel that we are paying over the odds for the car we insure. With the EU Gender Directive implementation now complete, insurers are increasingly deploying technology within vehicles that records driving information in order to allow them to set premiums that reflect the driving style of motorists. Commonplace is the practice of installing tracking devices into vehicles to record information that should enable the insurer to diagnose the risk faced by that driver more accurately.

For example, higher speed (average or peak) might indicate greater risk; likewise greater distance covered relates to greater exposure. Other potential diagnostics include: time of day when the vehicle is being used; location; cornering at excessive speed; acceleration/deceleration and types of roads used.

The diagnostics from the Telematic black boxes can be gathered second by second for all journeys. This creates many advantages for insurers in tracking this data:

  • Differential pricing
    The EU Gender Directive may have created a way for female drivers to avoid large hikes in their car insurance premiums. Also, it could reduce the cost of young drivers’ insurance, allowing them to be rewarded for better driving habits.
  • Driver benefits
    No claims discounts can be worked out relative to mileage, rather than years, which is seen to be a more accurate exposure measure. Providing feedback to customers on their driving behaviour could encourage them to become better drivers, leading to safer roads.
  • Fraud
    Delays in reporting accidents to insurers would be reduced, and while more accurate reporting of accidents and possibly even the cause will make a big difference.

The cost of these devices has significantly reduced since they first appeared in the late 1990s. Yet there are still only about 15 insurers offering or trialling this type of product and until the more dominant insurers enter the market, public knowledge of the technology will remain low. Currently less than 1% of car insurance policies use Telematics and with estimates ranging between 10% and 80% by 2027, it is difficult to predict where the market is heading.

In addition, these black boxes to gather data are only being installed in the cars of younger drivers.  There isn’t really any targeting being done to focus the use of such devices to higher risk groups, or indeed drivers with many previous claims.  Clearly this is easier where the organisation has a previous relationship, or history with the driver.  If that isn’t the case then external data should be getting used to help identify prospects who are likely to be careless or their lifestyle indicates they are more likely to be a higher risk.

From its earliest days, the insurance industry has been data-centric. In the past, insurance companies relied on historical data from policy administration solutions, claims management applications and billing systems. Today, the explosion of new data available is turning the insurance business model on its head. The growth in Telematics has had an especially large influence. Insurance is now a Big Data industry.

One thing is certain: Telematics data will play a key role in insurance pricing in the future.

london street

12th April 2016

There isn’t a shopper out there who hasn’t seen the impact of the two great warmongers on our high street: recession and the internet. The empty facings, plethora of charity chops, and low price outlets have led many to believe that the high street isn’t just dying, but is dead, and has no chance of ever being resuscitated.  And yet there are many examples of small towns, town edge malls and inner city developments which are bucking the trend and showing signs of fighting back.

So how do the high street retailers bring back the shoppers, and what does the future hold for the high street?

The economic downfall has limited retail sales and provided a strong rationale for shoppers to use the internet instead! In fact, 83% of consumers claim that they have, or would, shop online due to increased options, discounts and a broader selection of goods. People are more inclined to search diligently for a bargain from the comfort of their own home than brave the damp UK high streets – particularly at busy seasonal times.

The impact of online sales varies by retailer and by sector of course, but the most dramatic shift can be seen in music and film retail, where online retail is relentlessly crushing its high street counterpart. Conversely, sole internet players such as Asos and Amazon, with no bricks and mortar shops, are expected to double their share of the total market.

Electricals stores are also under pressure with just over a quarter of their white and brown goods now sold online. US retailer Best Buy pulled out of the UK last year closing all 11 stores while rival Comet was sold for just £2. Dixons Retail, which owns Currys and PC World, have also seen underlying sales in the UK and Ireland fall by 7%

And yet in fashion, just 9% of sales are online but this is still significant enough for several retailers – including Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and BHS – to be looking at store closures. So e-commerce can enhance the high street; retailers just have to get smart. As with most things, innovation is probably the key.  There are no longer any fixed rules when it comes to consumers, or even businesses, buying anything.

So retailers need to be flexible, explore all viable channels and use innovation. In the future, retailers need to employ a series of engaging techniques to persuade its customers that the best deals can be found on the high street.