Only 18 per cent of people have a specific health fund in mind when recognising that they need health insurance, meaning that four in five are open to persuasion, a new report released by NewsMediaWorks has revealed.
More than a third (38 per cent) of health insurance buyers said their purchase decision, whether they were new to the category or were switching providers, was directly influenced by news media.
To understand how to engage health insurance buyers on their path to purchase, NewsMediaWorks collaborated with Research Now to develop one of Australia’s largest path to purchase projects*.
Unlike similar studies, which retrospectively look at consumer behaviour, this study gathered information from buyers in real time at four distinct stages of their purchase journey: 1. recognising that they need to purchase health insurance; 2. researching options; 3. forming a shortlist and 4. buying health insurance.
Some 66 per cent of buyers recalled seeing or hearing a specific health insurance ad across any media in the early stages of buying. The most common messages retained involved special offers and where to go for more details.
During the research phase, price is the most important factor at 53 per cent, followed by coverage (51 per cent), recommendations (34 per cent), how to buy (33 per cent) and reviews (26 per cent). In the research phase, news media was the most influential paid advertising platform, while organic search ranked well. In the shortlist phase, the percentage of consumers who have a favourite health insurer in mind rises from 18 per cent to 50 per cent and one in two buyers now seek out reviews of health insurance products.
The study reveals that buyers engage with a range of paid, owned and earned media channels during their path to purchase. News media consistently out-performed other paid media on this journey, while three other channels also ranked extremely well – organic search results (not paid ads), comparison websites and health fund websites.
At the purchase phase, 80 per cent of buyers selected a health fund based on price. Reputation ranked second at 60 per cent, followed by reviews (49 per cent) and recommendations from others (46 per cent).
Consumers turn to news media as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the five key pieces of information they require when buying health insurance (price, coverage, recommendations, how to buy and reviews). Their information needs remain throughout the path to purchase, but their weighting changes at each stage. When they are about to make their purchase, for example, buyers look for detail on coverage inclusions and how to buy.
“Throughout the path to purchase for health insurance – which on average spans 13 weeks – news media consistently outperforms other paid media. When people are in the market for health insurance, news media delivers credible, trustworthy content,” NewsMediaWorks CEO Mark Hollands said.
“Some 16.8 million^ people read news media in print and on digital devices every month, making news media a powerful advertising medium for health insurers. Health insurance buyers turn to news media for authoritative content to educate and inform them but also with the level of detail required to select a fund that’s right for them.”
The Health Insurance report is the fourth Path to Purchase study NewsMediaWorks has released with previous reports including Automotive, Travel and Electrical Goods. Full reports can be found here: http://www.newsmediaworks.com.au/search/major-reports/pathtopurchase/
*The study surveyed 606 consumers in the market for health insurance captured at different stages of their purchase journey in July 2016.
^ Source: emmaTM, 12 months to August 2016. Readership based on last four weeks. Trends compared with 12 months to August 2015. Survey conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, people 14+, Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly), August 2016.