For all companies, good market research is an important part of both launching new products and refining existing products that will satisfy clients and consumers. In the insurance industry although the product is not tangible, the principle remains the same: at a fundamental level there must be a need for the product and the product must satisfy those needs.
But often this is easier said than done. Understanding the views and opinions of a vast and sometimes international public is difficult and accurately judging how they will react to a new product can be problematic. In industries like insurance, where differentiating products can be difficult, this is an even bigger challenge.
However, with the growing presence of online media more resources are now at hand. Companies can now follow customer conversations on social media, monitor news online and track what’s being said about their brands and products on blogs and forums. Indeed, the problem now may be that there is too much information that takes too much time to organise and analyse.
Enter social media monitoring. Although social media monitoring (often called social listening) is perhaps more commonly used for reputation management, the ability of such tools to track vast amounts of information across multiple networks lends itself well to the task of market research and gauging public opinion towards new and/or existing products.
This How-To guide will use the example of a new insurance product - cyber insurance- to show step by step how companies in the insurance industry or any other industry can use social listening to better understand online conversations surrounding a new or existing product and then use those insights to optimize product launch strategies and refine their products.
Data breaches and hacking are becoming the new battlefront for security. Some of the world’s largest companies Apple, JP Morgan and Sony to name but a few, have become victims of hacking and data breaches creating headaches for all involved. For insurance companies, the presence of a new type of risk means that there is increasing demand to mitigate that risk in the form of a new insurance product.
According to the insurance broking arm of Marsh & McLennan Companies, the U.S cyber insurance market was worth $1 billion last year in gross written premiums and could reach as much as $2 billion this year. The European market is currently a fraction of that, at around $150 million, but is growing by 50 to 100 percent annually.
Although cyber insurance has existed for some time, the current boost in growth is pushing insurance companies to create and refine their products to match the needs of their clients and to do it quickly as high profile breaches are causing more companies and high revenue potential clients to consider purchasing a policy.
So what steps should insurance companies take when using social media monitoring to prepare the launch of a new product or refine existing product strategy?
For the purposes of this analysis the main term would be “cyber insurance” or “cyber liability insurance” but it’s important to cast the net a little wider.
As cyber insurance is a relatively new market, a variety of other names should be considered:
- "hacking insurance”
- “breach insurance”
- “e-risks insurance”
- “cyber liability insurance”
Wider terms could also be used in conjunction with insurance to give you more of an idea of all the conversations happening in this space:
- “cyber risk”
- “data breach”
- “information security”
- “cyber security”
Of course the further away you get from your original search term the less relevant some of the results may be but this will also allow you to find unexpected links that may aid product development and give ideas for product refinement. For example, if online conversations about hacking and data breaches discuss new ways in which this is happening, this may be useful information for the product development team.
Tip: Using a theme cloud (below) is an easy way to discover other search terms to track in relation to your new product.
One interesting term that emerges from this hashtag cloud is “#smallbusiness” or “#smallbiz”. One might expect that it would be bigger companies that would be willing to pay the premiums and digging deeper into these results even more precise information about the nature of the conversation around these keywords can be found.
These kinds of insights can help market research departments to more precisely define the potential target audience or segment for their new or existing product.
Knowing the countries and the platforms where discussions about a product are taking place can also be key to product launches or strategy refinements. At this stage some general questions should be asked:
- Where is the product being discussed: in the US and not Europe?
- What is the tone of the discussion: positive/negative, on topic/off topic?
- Which online platforms are generating the most buzz: Twitter, blogs, Facebook?
- How about engagement: is it the same platforms as the buzz?
A look at the breakdown of countries and media types where cyber insurance is discussed can give you a quick snapshot:
Looking at the share of mentions by country, we can see that the majority of the conversation is taking place in the United States, another potential indicator of the current difference in size between the US market and the European market.
Tip: To have accurate data for different markets don’t forget to include the name of the product in the local language when creating search queries. If you include for example the German term for insurance “versicherung” alongside “cyber”, Germany suddenly jumps up to fourth in the share of mentions ahead of Australia and France.
Twitter is clearly the preferred platform for the online community when talking about cyber insurance with online news and blogs next in line. But it is important to remember that the short form nature of Twitter does tend to increase the number of mentions even though some tweets can have as much influence on online discussions as a news story or blog post.
This gives you a broader view of the platforms and countries where cyber insurance is being discussed. But understanding which discussions take place on which platforms can give you even deeper insights.