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A Tale of Two Driveways

I live in an old community, with houses dating back to the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Up until a few years ago, it seemed like most of my neighbors were the original owners of those homes. But death, downsizing, and the siren song of the gulf coast means that we have many new families on the block, most of whom are well under 40 years old.

One of those new families lives right next door to me. Couldn’t be nicer people. Moved in about a month ago after 10+ years of condo living in downtown Chicago.

newspaper in driveway

Every morning there is a newspaper at the end of my driveway. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t subscribe to a daily paper. But when I picked up my paper this morning, I noticed something: there was no newspaper in my new neighbors’ driveway. I went for my morning run and noticed the same phenomena in every house that had been sold in the last few months to the “next generation” of neighbors – not a newspaper to be seen.

Based on my “over the fence” conversations with my new neighbors, it’s clear that they are up to speed on current events – locally and globally. They’re getting the news from someplace – but it’s not the newspaper.

The business model for information distribution – in which newspapers once were a cornerstone – has changed.  And woe to those publications who didn’t see it coming and who have not invested in adapting to it.

Sound familiar?

You can’t escape the comparison between the distribution of information to younger consumers and the distribution of financial services to this same demographic. We’ve all heard the mantra that “auto insurance is bought and life insurance is sold.” Traditionally, that sale has been made by an agent sitting at the consumer’s kitchen table.  But when it comes to providing financial services products to younger consumers – especially those with limited resources – that distribution mechanism HAS CHANGED!

The next generation of your societies’ members is about as likely to be sold life insurance by an insurance agent who sits across the kitchen table from them as they are of subscribing to a newspaper. Moreover, it’s financially impractical for agents to sell products to these individuals using the “kitchen table” method because they are likely to purchase lower cost policies that generate very little commission.

Your new members are much more likely to “buy” a term life insurance policy that fits their needs and budget after doing their homework on the internet. Many of these individuals share a passion for community engagement and embrace a business model whose primary mission is to serve people rather than produce profits. And fraternals can harness millions of a new generation of members if we develop a distribution system that allows these individuals to purchase easily understood products online based on price, accessibility and the appeal of the fraternal brand.

Want to learn more about changes in consumer attitudes and distribution systems?

We thought you might. That’s why we’ve arranged for Sean O’Donnell, Assistant Vice President, Member Relations, of LIMRA to address the Alliance’s Annual Meeting on September 7, and discuss Challenges and Opportunities Serving the Middle Market.  11872c8

You’ll walk away with tangible ideas that can help you understand how to effectively connect your society to a new generation of members.

5 Responses

  1. Great analogy and story Joe! Dead on…

  2. And not just the younger prospects have gone virtual. Even those from the “print generation” now get much of their news online.

    With that in mind key for the fraternal insurance industry is to see how it can actively engage – beyond the contract – those of any generation who purchase our products today and in the future.

  3. Great analogy. Although, as someone who still spends Saturday mornings on my veranda with a coffee and my old-school newspaper, it’s kind of sad. I won’t be able to attend Sean’s session but it sounds fascinating. Will you be recapping it in a future blog?


  4. Joe’s point is the heart of the fraternal industry problem – we can sell to 1000’s of new members online, but if we can’t get them to engage, how can we still call oursleves fraternal as the active members decline.

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