This industry engagement was a gripping talk from Piers Newson-Smith, Head of Brand at Direct Line Group, who not only emphasised the need for innovation internally at Direct Line Group, but also the necessity for evolution in the whole insurance industry in recent times - with many companies offering the same deal, thus making sustainability a complex task due to lack of differentiation.
An event that was a must for any student interested in marketing, at any stage of their degree, started with Piers stating it is critical for a brand to recognise the needs of their target markets in order to stay attractable in a highly competitive market.
A high performance proposition can be sought by finding a customer need plus a recognisable market gap.
Piers spoke of three companies that are included in the Direct Line Group; Direct Line, Churchill, and Privilege, all of which have different target markets and thus have to be marketed and operated in ways that function with their designated target markets. Privilege is the only company which can be found on comparison websites, as their customer profile would be someone who looks only for the cheapest insurance as a key priority, with additional benefits being viewed as minor and redundant. In comparison, Direct Line and Churchill can only be found direct through their own websites as they offer higher premiums but with additional benefits that brings more security and assurance to their designated target markets - yet these advantages would not be easily presentable on comparison websites: furthermore offerings through direct channels reduces the chance of eliminating a market segment due to high prices as costs can by saved by being able to cut out the middle-man of comparison websites.
Piers used several memorable equations to make the thought process that Direct Line and many other corporations had to embark upon to create differentiation, easily distinguishable.
Brand position is key: Segment -> Target -> Position
Although it can be viewed that Direct Line have been successful in their evolution following tricky recent years, Piers signified that focus always have to be on the challenges of tomorrow, especially with the growth of technology start-ups that are looking to disrupt the market - just how Direct Line did with in 1985 with the method of using the telephone.
This disruption by Direct Line was brilliantly marketed in a 1990's commercial, which was shown to us by Piers to help our understanding on how Direct Line was able to gain such a significant market share, and reiterated the importance of brand identity.
The capacity to deliver a strong, trusted brand relies on reputation: this reputation has the foundations of a clear identity that drives the behaviour of the company to deliver positive customer performance.
Conclusively, Piers was efficiently direct in his explanation of his experiences as Head of Brand at Direct Line Group, and how they have taken on a new look with the introduction of Winston Wolf- and his iconic quote "I fix things", which goes hand in hand with Direct Line's "We fix things" slogan, showing a clear identity - highlighting the concept that Piers' talk was of high-quality industry relevance. Each slide that Piers delivered was filled with information that progressed the students way past their expectations - subsequently finishing with an open Q&A where Piers expanded upon several complexual questions that he was asked.
Thank you very much once again to Piers for his involvement on the night.
Piers Newson-Smith - Head of Brand at Direct Line Group: https://www.directline.com/
For more information visit the Pearson College London website: https://www.pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk/