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AIAIO: Our Blog

AIAIO: Our Blog

The pulse and reviews of Alexander Interactive

How Television Shows Can Ensure a High Quality Experience for Viewers

Whoever said television is dead, obviously hasn’t taken a cold, hard, look at a Roku… or an Apple TV, or an Amazon Fire Stick. Television isn’t dead, it’s evolving; moving increasingly fast in the direction of online, on-demand, broadcast. Thanks to streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime, binge watching has allowed TV fans to unwind anywhere, anytime. Yet, not only is it the act of watching 10 nonstop hours of Game of Thrones pleasurable, it’s also downright engaging; starting before the show begins and even after it ends. So much so that binge watching, or watching any amount of television at all, is no longer a means to an end for boredom, it’s a chance for show runners to engage with viewers like never before.

According to a survey by Conviva, a video optimization provider that was reported by Techcrunch, more than half of today’s binge watchers are unlikely to return to a series they’ve stopped watching due to a negative experience. Whether it’s from poor resolution, frequent interruptions, or an unavailable episode/season for long periods of time, the well over 100 million people binge-watching want just one thing: a quality watching experience. But how can television shows provide that, especially when they’re not in charge of what (legal or illegal) streaming sites they appear on?

There is only one answer: television shows need to focus on their viewers at all times, throughout every episode, across all channels. Seems difficult… until you realize that some shows have already achieved huge levels of success by doing just that.

Quality television requires a fan base — one that’s dedicated to the overall storyline, its characters, and the behind-the-scenes team that make it all happen. In return for their continual support, show runners often give something exciting back to their fans. They begin to focus on the wants, desires, hopes and dreams of their viewers, and sometimes actually implement their ideas into the storyline. This doesn’t mean by any means that every show has to have a main character like House of Card’s Francis Underwood that literally talks to the viewer, but it’s not like that type of dedication hurts viewership…shows just need to make sure they don’t go too far.

“At a certain point, as always happens in Hollywood or culture in general, a set of superficial things come to stand in for quality,” says author of ‘Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution’ Brett Martin for the New York Post.  Essentially what Martin is saying here is to never forget your audience’s standards. It’s inevitable that some viewers are going to get bored or disconnected and leave. If every show had the same viewing ratings as its premiere date, than no one would win an Emmy. But what’s important to remember is that although some viewers will leave, those that stay are the heart and soul of any show. Honing in on those users will allow the show to thrive – living a long and healthy life (looking at you, Law & Order: SVU, currently on season 18). But this type of lifestyle won’t last long without being shared.

Today, shows that see the light of day (aka a second season), take their experience to the next level… well, levels. Quality television shows are designed for shared experiences. Taking the action off screen and into the real world is what sets apart B-list shows, from A-list winners. Most recently, the #1 spot on the leaderboard goes to USA’s Mr. Robot. The mysterious drama revolving around an underground hacker society has gone to extreme lengths to tie in the viewer. From tweeting this seasons first episode a full 24 hours before it’s release (then deleting it shortly after), to launching a VR narrative experience at Comin-Con, to even secretly relaying messages in the form of QR codes on screen mid-episode, Mr. Robot  is the epitome of the total television experience for viewers. But if Mr. Robot is the King, The Walking Dead is quite obviously the Queen.

Debuted on AMC in 2010, The Walking Dead has some of the most dedicated fans of any television show. Viewers talked about the series so frequently that the network created a second show just to talk about it: Talking Dead. Various other series have too incorporated an after-show for fans to further revel in the shocks and rumors of each episode (Mr. Robot just debuted the after-show Hacking Robot, and Bravo’s live after shows often lead to some intense catfights thanks to the Real Housewives). But to push the experience even further, Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California created a Walking Dead Attraction, filled with professionally trained zombies. Yeah, it’s that serious.

So for other shows to catch even a bit of the viewer wave Mr. Robot and The Walking Dead are riding, they need to stay focused on the user across all digital channels and engage where their viewers do. Television isn’t on it’s last leg, but the way viewers watch it just might be. It’s time for shows to move past the realm of ‘the box’ and into the real world- where everything is shared. Television is in the big leagues of UX now, will your show be ready?

UX

The Fight to Ride: Dissecting the Disruption Battle Between Old & New Ride-Hailing Apps

“Who’s that guy waving at in the middle of the road?” If you’ve had a lapse in memory or are just too young to remember what ‘hailing a cab’ looks like, you’re not alone. In today’s digital world, hailing a ride means going to your smartphone and hitting “request.” No waving necessary.

An industry valued well over a billion dollars, ride-hailing apps have taken over traditional methods of public transportation, and major cities around the world either love it, or hate it. For New Yorkers, the flood of yellow cabs in the streets has dwindled to a steady stream, overshadowed by bright pink Lyft mustaches and sleek blue Uber ‘U’ stickers. But for cities like Austin, Texas, where strict voters overruled the use of such companies for lack of certain regulations (think fingerprint-based background checks), commuters have to fend for themselves. So while it may seem like Uber and its competitors are winning the fight to ride, you can’t yet count out the old-timers in their yellow rides of sunshine. This disruption battle has only just begun.

Uber, founded in 2009, stands at the foundation of the ride-hailing industry, but not without pressure from its competitors. Lyft joined the battle in 2012. Followed by an outbreak in services overseas like Ola Cabs in Mumbai, Grab in Southeast Asia, and the women only service SafeHer in the U.S. arriving later this year. And they all want what Uber already has- disruption.

According to Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, for Techcrunch, “a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served… it offers a simpler, cheaper, or more convenient alternative to an existing product.”  Today’s existing product? Taxi cabs.

The first means of ‘ride-hailing.’ The original form of a public chauffeur. Cabs were established long before the cultivation of online transportation networks, and have used this ‘first-of-its-kind’ status as their platform for battle against companies like Uber and Lyft. But now, cabs have something more than age in their favor. The launch of ride-hailing apps made specifically for taxi’s allowed the yellow cab industry to finally put up a fair fight. Taxi-hailing apps like Gett, Arro, Flywheel, and Way2Ride, have all successfully launched in major cities in the past few years. Most notably, Gett has already announced that it’s revenue has tripled annually to $500 million, inching closer and closer to Uber’s $800 million last year.

With more and more apps coming to fruition every day, we may never see a clear winner of this battle. But one thing is certain, there’s no clear frontrunner either. There are downsides and upsides to ride-hailing apps, taxi-hailing apps, and just plain cab hailing. Time, money, and overall experience affect the ratings and ultimate success of these networks. Here are the most important points of contention these ride-hailing apps are fighting over.

Surge Pricing vs. Flat Rates

Surge pricing has been a huge cause for complaint for users of both Uber and Lyft. It’s not uncommon for users to experience rides for as much as 3X the original price during heavy traffic periods, extreme weather and heavy social holidays or events… along with what appears to be for no apparent reason. This is where Gett and traditional Taxi’s come out on top. Gett is primarily based on it’s $10 flat rates for black car trips in Manhattan (up to a half hour), and taxi’s don’t have a surcharge at all.

Winner: Gett/Traditional Taxis

Availability 

Compared to Uber’s 14,088 black and luxury cars and Lyft’s 5,000 dispatched vehicles in New York, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has roughly 13,437 medallion cabs. That’s not that big of a difference; but when looking at the number of specific drivers for Uber– the company has approximately 32,000, whereas Gett hasn’t yet reached 6,000, says NY Daily News.

Winner: Uber & Lyft 

Usage

Uber provides 82,000 rides per day in New York. Taxi’s make 485,000, without even factoring in Gett rides. This doesn’t need to be further debated …

Winner: Gett/Traditional Taxis

Awareness

According to Pew Research Center, 33% of American adults have never heard of online ride-hailing services. Of the remaining percentage, only 15% have actually used them. Uber and Lyft might be well known in the major cities, but it’s not as widely used as regular cab systems everywhere else.

Winner: Traditional Taxis 

Revenue 

Last year, Lyft made $800 million. Pretty impressive, except Uber made nearly $2 billion. Talk about an upset. Comparatively, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission released data last year that indicated a 18.4% gross revenue decline from the post-2012-far-increase peak.

Winner: Uber & Lyft

As you can see, the battle for the top spot on the disruption podium is far from over. Luckily for commuters, no matter who wins, there will always be a ride and disruptive technologies will keep riders as the real winners.

Technology

Our Favorite Instances of Insurance Humanizing Their Brands

Insurance falls under one of those categories of conversation that many people avoid as much as possible. It’s the decade old toy in the corner that only gets attention when everything else is taken. It’s the week old lasagna sitting in the fridge that only gets eaten when there’s nothing else left. Nevertheless, despite these negative stigmas surrounding the insurance industry, some companies have found a way to sound endearing and make us realize that it’s not so bad after all. With unique messages of hope, help, and harmony, the following three companies have found a way to hit the mark with consumers.

State Farm – “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”

You probably just sang that phrase to the classic State Farm tune in your head as you read it, right? Well, that’s kind of the point. State Farm is best known for feeling more like a friend than a foe compared to its more corporate-feeling competitors. State Farm forgoes typical business jargon used by most insurance companies and instead emphasizes strong community ties and sincere customer service in a clear, simple message: we’re here to help. By reiterating this point of being a good neighbor, State Farm is able to foster a (seemingly) more sincere relationship with its consumers.

Nationwide – “Nationwide is on your side” 

Another jingle! This half a century old slogan stands the test of time for a reason: it’s authentic. Everybody wants somebody on their side. Nationwide took that exact desire and spun it to work for their unique insurance model. And they made it even more contemporary by bringing in superstar quarterback Peyton Manning to do the singing in their latest ad campaign. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Adam Taylor, president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising New York (Nationwide’s ad partner), stated, “In the case of Nationwide, I think it’s been a competitive business advantage to stay true to the line.” Authenticity really does go a long way. Having one of the most recognizable NFL players sing it while folding laundry doesn’t hurt either.

GEICO – The GEICO gecko

Though not necessary one message, the GEICO gecko drops some serious knowledge every time he appears in an advertisement. Deemed the first ever “spokescreature,” numerous companies have followed suit with their own creatures in search of similar positive results. How does GEICO do it? They stay unique. After a period of time, a talking gecko doesn’t appear all that unique anymore. But give him a car and a sense of humor and you’ve got yourself an ad that works. GEICO continues to elevate in terms of unusual and extraordinary content with it’s gecko – keeping consumers attached to the overall message: a 15-minute call could save you 15% or more on car insurance.

Honorable Mentions

Insurance

Brick and Click: The Importance of a Total Customer Experience for Luxury Brands

Certain brands are deemed luxurious for a reason. It could be their dramatic designs, the top of the line materials with which they are created, or the company’s compelling history… or maybe it’s the pricing. Whatever the case, luxury brands have made their mark in the brick and mortar market and are increasingly looking to do the same in the digital realm. According to the latest McKinsey report, “Over the past five years, online sales of luxury goods in the global market have grown four times faster than offline sales- an annual growth rate of 27 percent.” Although an impressive feat, many luxury brands are now asking themselves how they can keep people coming through the door, while simultaneously driving online traffic.

“The pervasive belief was that luxury shoppers, with their discriminating taste and preference for high-priced goods, wouldn’t buy expensive things online,” says a 2014 McKinsey report. But with the increasing amount of consumers at all price points finding online shopping to be easier, how can luxury brands utilize both brick and click stores?

Here’s how we think they can do it:

  1. Take Advantage of Being ‘Offline’ – While dramatically overstated in customer relations, the phrase ‘people value unique experiences’ rings especially true when it comes to luxury fashion stores. Brands should use concrete retail stores as an additional marketing tool and capitalize on the ability to create physical, interactive experiences. Many consumers want to touch, feel, use and try on luxury products before reaching the final purchasing stage. These touch points (literally) are often what drive consumers to stores in the first place. Recognize these desires and take advantage.
  1. Construct a Compelling Digital Experience – These days, it’s almost too easy to create a responsive website. For luxury brands to truly stand out digitally, their website not only needs to fulfill expectations, it needs to surpass them. Executing the basic functions while immersing the consumer in a compelling digital experience is key to succeeding online.
  1. Engage with Consumers on a Social Level – No, we’re not talking about a dinner date. Interacting with consumers through social media can propel brand awareness and draw new consumers to the luxury lifestyle. “Each brand needs to strike a balance between exclusivity and inclusiveness,” said Brandwatch analyst James Lovejoy for the New York Times. Once luxury brands find a way to relate to their consumers through social, they’ll notice a upward shift in awareness, response, and loyalty. These positive outcomes result in none other than increased traffic in stores and online.
  1. Remain Seamless – This tip should come as no surprise to successful e-commerce companies. Seamless retailing requires integrated operations. From social, to digital, in store, and beyond, luxury brands must remain universal in all aspects of the business. “Consumers have heightened shopping expectations,” says Forbes. “71 percent expect to view in-store inventory online, and 50 percent expect the ability to buy online and pick up in store.” Synching operations to one unique harmony will leave luxury brands at the top of brick and mortar and online markets.

As strictly online retailers emerge and middle grade brands succumb to the pressure of the digital age, it’s imperative for luxury brands to stay on top of their consumers needs and wants both online and in store. With endless possibilities offline, a unique digital experience online, and an open pathway for communication between the brand and consumer at all times, brands cant afford anything but a fully seamless experience for their customers.

Ecommerce

Is Your Site Encouraging Shoppers to Finish Purchases or Abandon Ship? 

Since the dawn of the internet, shopping has gone viral. Literally. Whether it’s the never-ending stream of coupons arriving in our email inboxes, pop up ads taking starring roles in our social media timelines, or phrases like “flash sale” and “discount code” coming up first in search results, online shopping has become part of our daily routine. The act of online shopping, more accurately deemed e-tail, has transformed the way eCommerce websites are created, run, and measured. From design, customer service, messaging, and overall feel (whatever that means), shoppers evaluate these sites like ferocious lions waiting for the next kill, AKA sale. For sites to truly escape the rough seas and win over shoppers, they need to follow a few simple steps. Here are some do’s and don’ts for keeping your website afloat in a sea of options.

Do Research, Research, and More Research: Learning everything and anything there is to know about your shopper may seem a little extreme but it’s essential to running your site effectively and efficiently. Shoppers value the complete experience; pinpointing exactly what it is that experience entails allows for more flexibility when it comes to design, messaging, and positioning. McKinsey even goes as far to say that, “customer experience is becoming a key source of competitive advantage.”Research in all aspects of a website makes for a well-rounded experience and a happy consumer.

Don’t Neglect the Essentials: According to KoMarketing, the three most important things first time visitors want to see on a homepage are contact information, products/services, and an “about us” section. 44% of website visitors will leave the page if there’s no contact information or phone number. And after reaching a company’s website via a referral site, 36% of visitors will click on the company’s logo to return to the homepage. These statistics seem obvious, but hundreds of sites fail to succeed everyday because they’re missing these vital bits of information. Remember the basics and you’ll be smooth sailing.

Do Design for THEM: Today, good design, leads to good business. We’re in the ultimate era of technology and with that comes the ultimate stage for design. According to a 2015 study by Adobe, when given a 15 minute window to browse content, 66% of people would rather read something beautifully designed then something plain. Pictures aren’t loading? Goodbye. The website itself isn’t loading? See ya. Sloppy layout? You’re outta here. Design-driven companies recognize that while data is important to success, people really just like pretty pictures. Simple as that. So be sure to execute your design to perfection or you’ll see your shoppers leave with nothing but an empty cart.

Don’t Go Overboard: These days, websites don’t require flashy pop ups, outrageous graphics or over the top messaging. As long as you stay on point with your brand and keep the focus on making the shopper happy, you’ll forget all about the days of automatic homepage music and animated cursors.

Do Focus on Data: “Organizations need to move to a cycle of continuous delivery and improvement, adopting methods such as agile development and “live beta,” supported by big data analytics, to increase the pace of innovation,” says consulting firm McKinsey. In short, change is good. Companies constantly need to evaluate their sites to make sure they’re meeting the needs of their consumers. If the data reveals an issue, fix it and move on. Evolving with the times means utilizing data to propel your business in the right direction. But innovation can only happen if there is a willingness to make changes.

Don’t Forget the Cell Phone: In a recent study published by comScore, mobile devices now account for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online. This means more shoppers browse websites in the palm of their hand then on their desktop. To make sure your shoppers understand the goal of your site as well as what  products and services are offered, it all comes down to messaging. Communicate value in your messaging and shoppers will spend less time looking for details and more time purchasing the goods. And the same design tip applies to mobile: make it simple, make it sleek, and make it responsive.

In conclusion, Ai’s UX designer Francia Sandoval stresses the importance of entry points and expectations. “Sites need to provide clear journeys for their consumers. If someone can’t find the item they’re looking for in the first place then there’s a big issue with navigation and site structure,” says Sandoval. Additionally, users need to know what’s going to happen next, especially in the shopping cart. “Nothing is worse than filling out your information and then discovering you have 7 more steps to go through to accomplish your goal.”

Ecommerce

How to Hire (And Retain) More Women in Tech

According to the US Census Bureau, women make up just over 50% of the total US population and 59% of the US workforce. And yet, when it comes to technology, the number of women at the table plummets. A Deloitte report exploring the gender disparities within the tech industry found that the number of women employed by these companies (including some of the world’s most recognizable brands like Microsoft and Google) is less 25%, even fewer for technical roles. So what can tech companies do to recruit, hire and retain more women?

  • Provide educational opportunities and chances for women to learn. Part of the challenge in hiring women is that there are presently fewer applicants in the job pool. Less than one fifth of US computer science degree recipients in 2013 were women. While not all people working in IT or other technical positions have computer science degrees, companies without training programs or educations offerings are missing out on opportunities to consider women who’s skills can be polished once hired and can be developed into a true asset.
  • Consider how job descriptions and outreach are worded. Deloitte identified two major keys for recruiting efforts. The first is to make it a priority to avoid words that demonstrate or present any sort of (unintentional) bias that may deter a woman from applying. Secondly, reconsider requirements and recognize that mandating a significant amount of years of experience inheriently slashes many women from the pile of applicants.
  • Make it a priority to help ensure jobs are satisfying for women once they are hired. To consider simply getting women in the door is setting up for failure. A National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) study found that not only are women in technical positions between 25-34 finding increasing dissatisfaction with their jobs, 56% of those women are leaving before the highlight of their careers. This quit rate is twice as high as men in the same positions. Include true flexibility especially with scheduling. Develop catches to stop any sort of discrimination or bias that may not be recognized.
  • Create a path to leadership. Opening the path and demonstrating to younger women how they can grow can be a critical piece of the puzzle. Develop a mentorship program that pairs up women executives or management with younger women. This could be as simple as making tan internal program to create lasting bonds among coworkers or it could be going the route of Facebook, Pinterest and Box who paired together to create WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech). WEST pairs experienced women in technical roles at one of the three sponsor companies with younger women within their region (as opposed to their company) to provide 1-on-1 mentorship. Developing leaders does more than improve the worker’s life; it improves a company’s bottom line. A Credit Suisse report found companies with women in leadership experienced better sales, higher returns on equity, better stock performance, and higher payouts of dividends

Hiring (and keeping) female tech talent and creating leadership opportunities for these workers is more important now than ever. With benefits clearly demonstrated, it’s up to today’s tech leadership to identify what women need to feel good about their jobs and comfortable in the workplace – and make the necessary changes.

Technology

When a Great eCommerce Experience + Unique Business Model Led to Magic

In an attempt to change the entire eyeglass industry, Warby Parker has achieved what few companies have ever attempted, let alone succeeded to do: give the power to the people. Driven by a completely consumer-based business model, the minds behind Warby (Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andrew Hunt, Jeffrey Raiderand) were dedicated to perfecting their users’ experience from start to finish. This idea that the user comes first is is one that drives the entire Ai team, and what makes us particularly drawn to the brand. Well, that and the fact that they make stylish, inexpensive, and downright fun (to buy and wear) eye wear.

Escalating to the top of a $28 billion industry less than a decade after its establishment in 2010, Warby demonstrates it’s focus on catering to customers from the first touch point by sending customers five pairs of glasses to try on for free. Recognized by Fast Company as 2015’s most innovative company, Warby’s business approach backs up its winning title. From designing their glasses in-house, embracing nontraditional marketing channels, addressing customers directly, and selling their products for the strikingly reasonable prices, Warby far exceeds the normal e-commerce transaction, especially within their industry.

As Wired author Marcus Wohlsen puts it, “[Warby Parker’s] customer service seems to be conducted by real people, not robots or, even worse, people trained to act like robots,” in the 2014 post “Is Warby Parker Too Good To Last?” Powered by giving customers exactly what they want, the company ultimately sacrifices their own money, time, and control to fulfill such a unique business model. But the strange reality is that it actually works. Just last year investors valued the company at $1.2 billion. Yeah, it’s working alright. 

With such a unique foundation, Warby has seen a huge backing from millennials. This is due in large part to what many companies lack according to Accenture: a connected shopping experience. In a recent study put out by the consulting group, delivering a seamless shopping experience requires a presence at every stage of the process, meaning retailers must integrate their operations. Luckily for Warby, they’ve been doing this since the beginning. In an interview with Slate, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby David Gilboa stated, “We’ve taken a very hands-on approach, to ensure that we’re getting the best quality, and that we’re working with partners whose values are aligned with ours. That requires a lot of hand-holding, a lot of flying all over the world, but we think that that’s worth it.”

Another thing that sets Warby apart from its competitors is the company’s global awareness about the lack of adequate vision care. According to the company site, 703 million people currently live without access to eyewear. Working by the buy one/give one approach, Warby makes a monthly donation to their nonprofit partners (primarily VisionSpring) which in turn covers the cost of thousands of glasses. So far, that number is well over 1 million. Fun fact: people love companies that give back (We’re looking at you, Toms). According to a 2013 study by Nielsen, 46% of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have ‘giving back’ programs.

So blame it on the free delivery and returns, blame it on the one-for-one style giving, or maybe blame it on the fact that Warby Parker stands as the first ever e-commerce site for eye wear, whatever the decision may be, you can’t deny the magic of this incredible company. Come close to this unique business approach, and you just might find yourself at the head of a skyrocketing start up, leaving companies in the dust unable to look the other way.

Ecommerce

The Top Six Insurance Start-Ups To Watch

Legacy industries like insurance can seem complicated and inpentrable. This is no longer the case. More insurance start-ups than ever are popping up – and finding both funds and users – within the space to give consumers more options than ever for every type of insurance experience or need one might have. Here are six of our favorites that are not afraid to shake things up.

 

Company: FitSense

FitSense (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2015

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $15k

Top Investors: StartupBootcamp InsurTech London

About FitSense: Fitsense is a data analytics platform working with insurance companies to personalize life and health insurance for anyone with a smartphone or wearable device.

Why FitSense Made Our List: Fitsense was created to help lower insurance costs and improve risk ratings. By taking the data from a user’s wearable (like Fitbit or Jawbone), insurance providers can make more accurate risk preditions based on actual data which will reward users who live healthier lifestyles with lower insurances costs and premiums.

 

Company: Lemonade

Lemonade (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2015

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $13 million

Top Investors: Aleph, Sequoia Capital

About Lemonade: Lemonade is set to become the world’s major peer-to-peer P&C insurance provider.

Why Lemonade Made Our List: Lemonade is built on the idea that today’s insurance industry is “antagonistic” and “annoying” and the company aims to fix that. Lemonade is also stacking their team with more than just insurance industry pros: they hired renowned behavioral scientist Dan Ariely to help finesse their customer-focused, back-to-the-basics model.

 

Company: Melody Health Insurance (dba Canopy Health Insurance)

Melody (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2015

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $3.8 million

Top Investors: Eduardo Cruz, CEO of ARS Humano

About Melody: Melody Health Insurance, the startup health insurer that will provide value-priced health insurance to individual consumers throughout the U.S.

Why Melody Made Our List: Melody seeks to give consumers more power in purchasing their own plans at budget-friendly prices. They aim to be able to give bigger discounts on procedures by having a smaller group of core providers that are close to where their customers live and work.

 

Company: Oscar

Logo (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2013

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $727.5 million

Top Investors: Fidelity Investments, Google Captial

About Oscar: Oscar is a health insurance company that employs technology, design, and data to humanize health care.

Why Oscar Made Our List: Oscar isn’t the newest player in the book but they are one that has raised significant funding and has found successful growth. They aim to bring affordable premiums to their customers while also providing a pleasant user experience. They have an app that enables users to correspond directly with their doctors and customer services reps are always available. While their business model may not be significantly different, that focus on user experience in an industry that has a reputation for being challenging makes them notable. Oscar also offers its customers incentives like cash for flu shots and money back for meeting goals specific to its partner wearable (the Misfit) that encourage users to live healthier lifestyles.

 

Company: Sure.

Sure. (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2014

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $2.6 million

Top Investors: ff Venture Capital, Fosun Kinzon Capital, Montage Ventures

About Sure.: Sure is an innovative app within personal insurance that enables travelers to purchase on demand policies up to the time of their flight takeoff.

Why Sure. Made Our List: Sure. gives air travellers peace of mind by providing life insurance for specific durations (the length of a flight). This focus on microduration is different than a general life insurance policy since it is only enacted during air travel. The app provides it’s users with policy cost in real time.

 

Company: Trov

Trov (Insurance Start-Up) Logo

Year Founded: 2012

Amount of Funding Raised So Far: $46.27 million

Top Investors: Oak HC/FT

About Trov: Trov is an on-demand insurance platform that lets users buy insurance for specific products, for a specific amount of time.

Why Trov Made Our List: Trov is a service unlike any other. It enables its users to choose which of their belongings to cover and for how long. It also allows users to file their claims through the app. Furthermore, the coverage granted and cost are extremely transparent and upfront.

 

Insurance

Millennial Consumers Vs Gen Z: Should Brands Plan Now?

For brands and marketers everywhere, earning the Millennial consumer is without a doubt a key goal. Millennials, or anyone born between 1980 and the late 1990’s, are over 80 million strong and, according to a study put out by Accenture, spend over $600 billion each year. Millennials were the first digital generation and engaging with them was truly a unique experience from any of the previous cohorts before them. Earning their consumer dollar has been a test of adaptability and willingness to go digital.

As brands have adapted to appeal to these Millennials, is it time to start concerning themselves with Generation Z? It absolutely is. Despite their youth (the eldest members of this generation are just arriving to college and the youngest are still in grammar school), Gen Z is enormous. They make up 25% of the population and appealing to them effectively is and will continue to be a completely different ball game.

What worked for Millennials: Reaching them on mobile. Millennials are EXTREMELY attached to their mobile devices. In fact, Forbes found that a whopping 79% of Millennials were introduced to new brands via digital advertising and 71% of those surveyed felt that these mobile ads provided better options than they previously knew. Those numbers are huge!

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z’ers are don’t spend as much time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter so mobile ads in these sorts of verticals will fall flat with this group. According to an AdWeek survey, this generation is much more likely to spend time on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and other visually led social platforms than Millennials were. In addition, they are drawn to one thing: video, video and MORE video. Simply being in the digital space will no longer work as well as it had, unless content has video components.

What worked for Millennials: Brand Advocacy leading to loyalty. According to Nielsen, 85% of Millennials trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust consumer opinions online (Hello, outlets like Yelp and Glassdoor). As brands turned to new means of advertising like influencer and experiential marketing as well as sponsored blog content, they found a way to reach their targets.

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z doesn’t feel this same loyalty. They were truly born into the connected era; a majority don’t remember a time before smartphones existed. According to research put out by Ernst & Young, that ease of connectivity and instant gratification has created an environment in which Gen Z expects to be catered to as they expect brands to know that they can price and comparison shop. They expect to be engaged immediately or they are gone.

What worked for Millennials: Many Millennials were born into peaceful and prosperous times. While they were budget conscious, especially as they entered the workforce through the recession, security has made them much more comfortable with spending on non-necessities.

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z was born into a very different and tumultuous set of circumstances starting from the 9/11 terror attacks through the recession that began in 2008. Due to these sorts of massive experiences during formative years, Gen Z tends to be much more risk averse. This trickles into their spending: according to Accenture, Gen Z is much more likely to only make purchases for items that fulfill needs.

Clearly there are some similarities with the two generations (looking at you, technology!) but they also have very distinct differences. The two force brands to move further into the digital space. As more members of Gen Z ascend into college and the group enters the workforce, brands will have to continue the path Millennials led them to: get creative online and in the social space or get left behind.

Ecommerce

The Opportunity Insurers Have Targeting Millennial Consumers

There is no doubt about the importance of capturing the Millennial consumer. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 80 million people making up the millennial generation, or anyone born between 1980-2000. Look out, Baby Boomers! Millennials are officially the most populated generational group in the US EVER and how they go about making purchasing decisions is VERY different than any group before them. Why does this matter for insurance? Here are a few major reasons.

Millennial life looks VERY different than Baby Boomer life did at the same age. Pew Institute Research Center has estimated that only a quarter of Millennials are married – compared to nearly 60% of Baby Boomers at the same age. Furthermore, a 2016 Goldman Sachs study on Millennials spending and lifestyle habits demonstrated that Millennials are deferring major purchases like cars in favor of engaging with the sharing economy and utilizing ride-sharing options like ZipCar or Uber.

Opportunity for Insurers: Recognize that one size does NOT fit all. Millennials don’t do not live like their parents or grandparents. They are used to having a plethora of options to pick and choose from in order to get to the end product that is right for them and how they approach insurance is no different.

Purchasing style looks very different. Though Millennials face difficult economic barriers like massive student loans and a sluggish economy, they are still a powerhouse: AdAge estimates that Millennials will spend over $10 trillion dollars in their lifetime. How they spend this money is unique: they tend to be less brand-loyal and demand more transparency. An IBM Business Institute survey showed that comparison-shopping and personalized, user tailored experiences are extremely important pieces of the buyer process.

Opportunity for Insurers: Get comfortable with transparency. Build up social media and online presence with the purpose of more than just outright selling. By laying down the groundwork as an information provider, it helps create an open relationship that is appealing to Millennials. The Milliennial is not looking for an agent to reach out after this exchange, but to find information that will enable them to make their decisions.

Immediacy is Key. Millennials spend much of their time digitally – and it shows in every facet of their lives. For the generations that came before them, word of mouth was a powerful influencer when it came to making large purchases, including insurance. Previously, families would have a local agent and stick with that agent for decades. These agents would spend face time with their customers over time. Millennials prefer something more immediate and tend to prefer searching for information themselves than relying on advice of friends and family.

Opportunity for Insurers: Two words: prioritize digital. Not only do Millennials want to spend less time speaking on the phone or meeting in person, they want their answers RIGHTNOW. Upgrade any consumer facing websites to make sure the user experience is flawless, the design is appealing and fresh, and without a doubt, make sure it’s all mobile friendly. Goldman Sachs estimates that over 85% of Millennials own smart phones and do a majority of their browsing on alternative screens. If they can’t engage in those mediums, it’s a missed opportunity.

No doubt finding and maintaining success for insurers requires capturing Millennials as consumers. This means engaging with them on their terms and in the way that they like to be reached.

Insurance