Group Chief Marketing Officer
Zurich Financial Services
What makes you optimistic about the economy?
The global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 undoubtedly had an impact on customer trust in businesses across all industries. Although consumer confidence is beginning to stabilize, customers will be more diligent in their purchasing decisions. This poses an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves from the competition. North America will continue to play a pivotal role in leading the recovery, while the dynamic pull of millions — if not billions — of consumers with unmet needs in emerging markets will propel the global economy forward.
In this “age of responsibility” how do you see your customer changing?
The economic climate and recent financial upheaval has negatively impacted customer trust. Customers are looking for strength and stability in a company. They now look more closely at corporate values (such as corporate responsibility and regulatory compliance) and demand real value from products and services. The key to success is to build reputation and continue to focus on customers' needs. Two years ago, in September 2008, we launched Zurich HelpPoint, a way of doing business for Zurich by better understanding insurance customers' wants and needs and treating each customer as an individual, not just a policy number. Zurich HelpPoint is a promise to deliver when it matters most. This month, in September 2010, we are launching a new and evolved global campaign that is built on customer insights. “There are times when you’re glad that Zurich HelpPoint is by your side” is the main message of the campaign. The campaign will leverage all channels and media mix and can be seen in more than 40 countries in 11 languages worldwide.
How does your brand influence the decisions made at your organization?
Since developing a new brand positioning in 2008, we launched Zurich HelpPoint, which permeates the group’s culture and communications. This promise of "delivering when it matters,” applies not only to our customer-facing employees, but also to all employees who focus on "delivering when it matters." Making customers part of the discussion puts them at the heart of decision-making, not just at the leadership level, but also at every level within the company. Our new global campaign launched this month will further leverage this strategy by celebrating customer insights.
How do you see the marketing of brands changing in the next five to 10 years?
Consumer preference is changing profoundly. Consumers want things on their terms, whenever, wherever and however they choose to get them. For example, a consumer in Switzerland can learn about a product from messages generated from Asia, chat on a social media forum with other users, compare notes from Europe, and then buy the product from North America. It is a truly global economy. The marketing of brands will have to evolve and keep pace with the changing needs of consumers. The better we understand our customers – their purchase behavior, their use of products and services, and most importantly, how they receive messages – the better marketing and customer experience we can build. Marketers will have to evolve from mass marketing to a more targeted approach.
The key to brand-building will be full circle, or 360 degree marketing. Marketers will have to start with an accurate picture of a company's internal capabilities and how they might be harnessed to deliver solutions to customers and prospects. They need to answer two questions: Who are we? What are we really good at now or what could we become really good at in the future? Then marketers must find a way to deliver this to the customer. Once you have determined this, you leverage multiple channels and platforms – the full marketing mix – and your employees to deliver it to the customer. We will also see the use of traditional marketing channels further shift from large-scale mass marketing to more targeted and aligned initiatives. Lastly, the emergence of digital media is going to drive how consumers will access information about products and services.
What unpredictable factor most impacted how you managed your brand in the past decade?
Without a doubt, the most unpredicted development affecting how we manage the Zurich brand was the global financial crisis. Although this was primarily a banking crisis, it nevertheless affected how people view insurance companies. For Zurich, with our strength and stability, this is a real opportunity for us to continue driving value for our customers and leverage our brand. We have also seen consumers change how they consume media. They listen and look at everything other people say about us, whether they are satisfied customers or not. Their purchasing decisions and buying patterns are constantly evolving and companies need to ensure that they can meet these increasingly complex demands.
How have you adapted to the impact of technology and social media?
In regards to technology, it is fair to say that it poses a major challenge to the insurance industry. A company needs to be engaged in multiple media channels to lead the conversation about their brand. Specifically, social media provides an opportunity for marketers to reach customers and prospects. Social media must be part of the overall portfolio of activities marketers leverage to optimize their reputation, create demand and enable sales. We have adopted technology and social media very aggressively, starting with an iPhone application for claims services to selling insurance online. We participate in every digital forum from Facebook to Twitter. We’ve evolved our marketing approach to leverage social media aggressively.
How much of a role does corporate citizenship play in managing your brand?
At Zurich, being a responsible, sustainable company is an element of good management and is essential to how we do business. In our core business practices, our propositions and services, and in our engagements with the communities in which we live and work, we proactively address social, environmental and governance issues that are of concern to our stakeholders. We recognize that our needs are inextricably linked and we work hard to contribute to sustainable development for our Group, our customers and society.
We are committed to continually validating all elements of our strategy against the broader aim of being a responsible company. Understanding the risks and opportunities posed by issues such as climate change, demographic change, resource scarcity, access to financial services and poverty – and creating adequate responses to help our stakeholders face these challenges – is at the heart of all we do.
Arun Sinha is the Group Chief Marketing Officer of Zurich Financial Services, a leading global insurance provider. He oversees all aspects of integrated marketing, customer insights, brand management, sponsorship, web strategy and communications in over 170 countries for Zurich.
His achievements have been well recognized. In 2009, Arun was awarded “Marketer of the Year Award” by the Direct Marketing Association. In 2003 and 2004, BtoB Magazine named Arun a “Top Marketer of the Year,” while in 2004 his team received BusinessWeek’s “Excellence in Corporate Advertising” award. Arun is an acclaimed author of a book, Sweet Spot: How to Maximize Marketing for Business Growth.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and 24x7 Learning company.
Arun holds degrees from Michigan State University, the Indian Institute of Mass Communications in New Delhi and from St. Xavier’s College, University of Calcutta.