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Are You De-Teching? (Part 2 of 2)

 

Last week... you read that millenials are turning away from some technology. This week... read what this emerging trend means for those in the insurance industry.

Generational studies document that experiences during our formative years mold the core values that guide us throughout our lives, says Chuck Underwood, a consultant who specializes in generational studies (http://www.genimperative.com/) and the author of The Generational Imperative. "Because of the heavy face-to-face that millennials enjoyed as children, millennials will desire the same thing in adulthood."

"Digital backlash is a trend that will continue as technology further isolates us," agrees Brad Hines, a digital marketing and social media strategist (http://www.bradfordhines.com). He offers some examples:

  • Board games like Recollection! are having a Renaissance.
  • People are opting to go "real bowling" instead of playing Wii. And, he adds: "Even online dating websites are switching to many mobile versions that force you to interact in the real world by way of meeting people through interaction."

So what does this emerging trend mean for those in the insurance industry? There are a number of implications:

  • Recognize the importance of face-to-face, voice-to-voice communications across generations; millennials are no more likely to prefer e-communication than any other generation.
  • Understand that you operate in a world where the old and new ways coexist; neither one alone can meet all needs.
  • Realize that offering options is the best way to meet the needs across generations and personal preferences.

"You should always give people the options," suggests Ann Mack, author of the report "Embracing Analog: Why Physical Is Hot." For instance, if you have a customer newsletter, offer either a hard copy or electronic version-or both. And, she adds, be careful about making assumptions of what people prefer. She notes that "physical mail is becoming more and more of a novelty these days-you're more apt to read what comes in the form of a physical letter or brochure today."

Insurance professionals are in a good position to capitalize on the need for personal connections among this younger generation.

"Research suggests that infrequent social interaction negatively impacts mental and physical wellbeing," notes Christopher Sardone, a marketing analyst with TeliApp Corporation (http://www.teliapp.com). Humans are social beings that naturally seek the company of others, he says. As the convenience and efficiency of automation and technology continues to reduce the rate of daily social interactions, person-to-person business is becoming "a sought after commodity." In fact, he points out: "numerous businesses in a variety of industries are now focusing entire advertising campaigns on the promise of live customer service." (Consider the widespread popularity of the Flo character from Progressive's ad campaign.)

Like others, Sardone cautions against moving away from technology, noting that a combined approach makes the most sense. "I believe that as the world places greater value on social interaction in business, high-touch and high-tech will blend and complement each other,' he says. "There is an increasing demand for online services designed for the purpose of bringing people together and that trend is likely to persist."

Don't give up on your electronic methods of communication-social media still resonates with many audiences, including millennials. But, don't lose sight of the fact that personal interaction-especially among this generation-still rules.

Lin Grensing-Pophal has written on topics ranging from health and wellness, to careers and HR-related topics, to marketing and social media. Her most recent book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Strategic Planning" (Penguin), was released in spring 2011. Lin is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.