Haven Life: MassMutual's D2C Policy Covers Millennial Change

Trust is everything in financial services, and in insurance especially, longevity matters. And yet many legacy brands have launched D2C spin-offs like MassMutual’s Haven Life, which targets married millennials with a life insurance model that bypasses the usual agent/broker channel.

Building a fresh, nimble D2C image while pointing toward 150-year-old stability is the hat trick for these brands. But as Brand Director Adam Weinberg tells us this week, Haven Life aspires to change the conversation around life insurance. Think confetti and hero moments rather than the end-of life euphemisms insurance ads have used for generations. 

Marketing old and emerging finance brands to new generations of consumers is the focus of our Sept. 23-24 Marketing Financial Services virtual conference. Marketers from Goldman Sachs, Square, Zelle, Securian, TIAA, Zelle, and MassMutual’s Haven Life and many more will be part of the conversations.  You can listen to the entire podcast here.

MediaPost: I'm curious about these new consumers and how they come at the idea of branding. Do they need the new branding? How much do they need to know that MassMutual is behind it, and how is that woven into the conversation?

Adam Weinberg:  MassMutual and dependability we know is our core, and that is not going to change. Quite the opposite. We lean into it very heavily. 

One of the things we learned very early on is that thinking about life insurance meant thinking about death. It was a difficult conversation you had to have over dinner with your partner that you put off for a couple of months. 

But when we really stopped and thought about why someone buys life insurance, they buy it because they've had a baby or they just bought their dream home where they got engaged. Some of the best moments in someone's life are really what's associated with those trigger points to buying life insurance.

We were able to flip the brand on its head and make life insurance something you can feel good about and celebrate. And I think that has resonated both with the modern consumer and also fits well with us as a more technology- and innovation-driven agency.

MP: So what is some of that messaging? Tell me a few of the main brand points that you bring home in your advertising.

Weinberg: We definitely make the idea of buying a policy as doing a heroic action for your family, something that should be celebrated. We’ll often reference confetti with the idea of buying a life insurance policy.

On top of that, we’re very careful to stay away from the jargon and that inundation of information that usually comes with researching any sort of financial product. We focus on making this a very simple, easy and enjoyable transaction and experience.

One of the things we did when we redesigned our digital application, years ago, was very important for us from a brand perspective: to get away from this feeling of you filling out an application, almost like a form in a doctor's waiting office. We made it more conversational. We added in some personality and leaned in transparency and helpfulness, and that's been great for us.

MP: And obviously that changes your targeting and what channels you're using. 

Weinberg: We call them people going through “me to we” moments: they've got engaged, bought a home. SEO is a big one for us, as are affiliates and partnerships, social. TV is one for us that we've definitely seen some success with, especially in the post-COVID world where we've made the move over to OTT. And word of mouth, which has always been big for life insurance. 

MP: Is there a way you optimize for word of mouth? 

Weinberg:  Research shows that 50% of people don't even know who their insurance is with, which is a crazy from a brand perspective. We've set about fixing that. Number one, provide value to a customer while they're alive. Haven Life Plus is like a bonus feature to our term policy that gives policyholders access to additional services that they can use while they're alive to make their life less hard, things like a digital will and trust forms at no extra cost.

So these are not things that we're collecting data from or we're using to upsell. This is a pure, “Hey, we want to build a more meaningful relationship with our customers.” And the way we select brands for that is we go to the policyholders and we ask them, “What can we do to make your life less hard? What are some services that you need?”

Second thing we do is try to create moments that make policyholders feel more like policy members. A great example is, every year we put out an annual report. Last year, when we surveyed our policyholders, there were some incredible responses, and we ended up focusing on the idea of moments of magic. We sent out long report that highlighted all the great accomplishments from charities they donated to, to languages they learned, to children they adopted. We also shared a deck of custom Haven Life playing cards, along with a magic trick that one of our employees created.

MP: Did life insurance get a COVID bump?

Weinberg: There's no question that the demand for financial protection and products are in major spike during COVID. [But] we're dealing with the shelter-in-place restrictions in many areas, which made it difficult for anyone who needed a medical exam to finalize coverage. We had to respond very quickly and nimbly so we could help these customers out and walk them through things. 

At the same time, we made a major focus to provide a lot of educational material around COVID and life insurance, make sure it's SEO-optimized. At one point we were ranking the first or second position for COVID and life insurance as a search. We just made sure we were a key information source to these people.

MP: Were you getting new and very different customers than you had before? A number of D2Cs have mentioned this as a challenge.

Weinberg: I think what we're seeing now is people who are really taking their time to price-compare and dive into the details of policies and the minutia, and really invest in getting the product that is right for them and right for their family. It's a customer who's very hungry for education and wanting to learn and make sure they're really going through the process and crossing their T's and dotting their I's.

MP: What are the key lessons learned over the last six months? 

Weinberg: We’re starting to see over the last few months that customers are needing a tangible confirmation that coverages are in place and that they're taken care of. Traditionally, they can apply and be covered in minutes -- they don't need a medical exam, and then they're done. People need that extra assurance now. There's been a lot of uncertainty and people are questioning things that they took for granted before. So it's not that they necessarily want us to hand-deliver them a 50-page insurance policy document, but they do want some comfort of being able to hold something tangible in their hands that signifies, “Process is done and you're all set.” 

MP: What do you think is going to change permanently about  insurance shopping?

Weinberg:  I think there's always been a sort of connection that the modern consumer wants: speed, the  fast way to get it. This was another check for us that it's not just about fewer screens or emails. I don't think it's looking for  what corners we’re going to cut to get the consumer from point A to point B the fastest way possible. We really need to consider what are the needs at each step of the process and what can we do to create the most positive consumer experience.

MP: Is there a willingness in this generation of consumers, especially when it comes to life insurance, to see their own lifestyles tied more to things like the premiums?

Weinberg: We're always exploring ways in which we can improve, so that stuff is something we're looking into. I think from a consumer’s standpoint, while they are willing to connect and tie themselves to brands more, they're also more savvy, they're not just going to give you their wearable data without knowing how it's going to be used. And I think building that trust is the first thing you need to do. And second is creating a process that makes sense for the consumer first, and also for us well. There's definitely a path to doing that and just figuring out the right way to do it.

MP:  We're on the precipice of a whole new of thinking about branding when literally brands are under our skin. It's like a bizarre Brave New World. But insurance, along with devices, are among those places where we're going to see what our tolerances are in the next generation.

Weinberg: Absolutely. In life insurance, our goals are very much aligned with the consumer's. Consumers want to stay alive, and we want to keep them alive. So at the end of the day, we want to make their life easier, for them to feel good about life insurance, and for them and their family to be protected. So I think when the brand's pulling in that direction and the consumers in the same direction, there's a lot of potential there.

MP: I think we have just come up with the next great tagline for life insurance: “We want to keep you alive.” 

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