NEW YORK, July 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- State Farm takes Brand of the Year honors in the home and life insurance categories, holding steady in its equity ratings as the insurance category overall experiences declines, according to The Harris Poll® 2016 EquiTrend® Study. The 28th annual study awards the strongest brands in nearly 100 categories across the media, travel, financial, automotive, entertainment, retail, restaurants and household industries, based on consumer response.
AAA edges out State Farm to claim Auto Insurance Brand of the Year, climbing to the top spot from third place in 2015. Blue Cross Blue Shield is named Health Insurance Brand of the Year for the sixth consecutive year, a feat achieved only by nine other brands in the EquiTrend study.
Measuring brands' health over time, the EquiTrend Brand Equity Index is comprised of three factors---Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration---that result in a brand equity rating for each brand. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend "Brand of the Year" award for their respective categories. This year, more than 97,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 3,800 brands (including 56 insurance brands), across nearly 500 categories. The complete list of Harris Poll EquiTrend Brands of the Year can be found at: http://www.theharrispoll.com/equitrend-rankings/2016. Additional information can be found at: www.theharrispoll.com/equitrend-information.
"State Farm has been at or very near the top of insurance brands measured for many years," said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. "The company has an incredibly strong captive agent network on the ground, and for years maintained a consistent, familiar core campaign while running parallel campaigns to stay fresh and relevant. AAA is clearly extending its relationship as a 'friend in need' for stranded drivers in the auto insurance category, and with aggressive direct marketing, into home and life as well."
The 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend Insurance Brands of the Year
Source: The Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study
Insurance Companies on a Brand Equity Decline
The Harris Poll study shows that overall, the insurance industry's brand equity falls toward the bottom of the broader financial services category, with all types of insurance on a downward trend.
The Harris Poll 2016 EquiTrend Study
Brand Equity by Financial Services Sub Category
Source: The Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study
"Despite some fresh and interesting ad campaigns in recent years, Harris Poll's research shows that consumers are challenged when it comes to feeling a connection with insurance brands," said Sinopoli. "Membership-based and captive agent channels make the strongest connection with consumers; they can leverage their affiliations (such as AAA) and their loyal ground organizations (such as State Farm). The online channel may be the wave of the future, but it is polarizing; despite the convenience, the online channel demonstrates a higher rate of disconnection than other channels, especially captive agent."
Harris Poll's research shows that while the online insurance channel has the strongest positive momentum (22%) compared to other channels when it comes to brand equity, just as many consumers (20%) see it as "on the way down," indicating that online insurance as a sales channel may require some attention. According to Nielsen's 2015 Insurance Track, 38 percent of adults "showroom," meaning they research their options and compare prices online before they buy from an agent.
"Showrooming is a behavior that is driving tremendous change across consumer retail and it is evident in insurance as well," said Sinopoli. "Providing the right materials to the right audiences and driving connection through the online experience will increasingly determine which agents get booked for an appointment."
Millennials and Women Mean Equity Opportunities for Insurance Companies
The Harris Poll shows that millennials, many of whom have not yet formed insurance brand loyalties, are an opportunity for insurance companies to build brand equity.
"Not only are millennials active shoppers, but they are at a time in their lives when many are looking to purchase their first policy," said Sinopoli. "Nielsen research shows that nearly two-thirds of millennials have shopped for an insurance policy over the past few years, often triggered by a life event—just as we have seen with older generations. Buying their first car or home, getting married or having a child can trigger a first encounter with an insurance company. Connecting with this price-conscious, yet quality-seeking group primed for purchase will be significant when building brand equity."
The Harris Poll study shows that women represent a different opportunity for insurance brands. Women are more likely to feel disconnected from auto and home insurance brands than men, with female respondents indicating a lower familiarity with brands and a lack of fit. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of women feel that auto insurance brands don't "fit them," compared to 53 percent of men. Similarly, 60 percent of women feel that home insurance brands don't fit them, compared to 52 percent of men.
However, life insurance represents a safety net for women that insurers can leverage. Nielsen's 2015 Insurance Track shows that women (43%) are just as likely as men (45%) to feel that life insurance is essential for retirement, while women (20%) are less likely than men (29%) to say they have other investments to rely on.
"Insurance companies can create loyalty and ultimately, build stronger brand equity with women in a number of ways," said Sinopoli. "For example, responding to women's insurance needs through targeted products and preferred distribution channels, tailored educational opportunities, training agents to encourage couples to plan together, and ads that resonate with women as confident insurance buyers are all ways to attract and retain female customers."
The 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study is based on a sample of 97,120 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over surveyed online, in English, between December 22, 2015 and February 1, 2016. The survey took an average of 30 minutes to complete. The total number of brands rated was 3,837. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 40 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data was weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over based on age by sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
The Brand Equity Index is the keystone to the EquiTrend program, providing an understanding of a brand's overall strength. A brand's Equity is determined by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. Brand of the Year is determined by a simple ranking of brands.
The Harris Poll EquiTrend Brand Equity Index has been academically vetted1, showing that strong brand equity is associated with strong financial performance, even during a financial downturn, such as that experienced in 2007-2010.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
About The Harris Poll
Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers' motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive, Inc. (which operates The Harris Poll) in 2014. Contact us for more information.
Harris Poll EquiTrend study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll. All third party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Use of such trademarks does not constitute or imply any sponsorship or endorsement.
1 The Harris Poll EquiTrend methodology has been validated by academic business experts in the Journal of Marketing Research (1994) and International Journal of Research on Marketing (2012).
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SOURCE The Harris Poll