Survey Finds Personal Finance Concerns Outweigh Fears of Terrorism; Mistrust of Insurers

September 2, 2004

Euro RSCG Worldwide, a leading integrated marketing communications agency, has released the results of an online survey of more than 13,000 respondents in six countries, which found that more people consistently fret about their finances than about the threat of a terrorist attack. It also concluded that a majority of those responding don’t trust the insurance industry.

“In the United States, just under two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents agreed they often worry about money, compared with 53 percent who are concerned about the threat of some form of terrorist attack.” said the bulletin. “In the U.K., money is a frequent cause for concern for a slight majority of respondents surveyed (55 percent), while terrorism worries 48 percent. In France, the percentages were 64 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and in Germany, they were 56 percent for money compared with a very low 28 percent who worry about terrorism. In China, consumers show significantly lower levels of concern (44 percent over money and just 27 percent over terrorism), while in India levels of concern were relatively even for both (63 percent money vs. 61 percent terrorism).”

“One of the less welcome effects of globalization and always-on media is that news tends to travel far and fast. Given that most times good news is no news, it’s bad news that travels farthest and fastest. This is creating a general sense of anxiety and vulnerability that we’ve found in these and other figures in the survey,” observed Marian Salzman, Chief Strategy Officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide. “We track these things because it’s important for our clients to be aware not only of the specific concerns consumers have, but also of people’s general moods. That influences what they buy, where they go, and how they interact with businesses and brands.”

The survey also found a “high level of mistrust in the insurance industry as a whole. Substantial majorities of respondents in each market agreed insurance companies will do everything possible to avoid paying claims. What’s more, the percentages of prosumers [defined as the most proactive, innovative, and communicative consumers in any market, which gives them a disproportionate influence over their nonprosumer peers] agreeing with the proposition were higher in all markets, indicating that the opinion is likely to increase.”

The U.K. led the mistrust category with 77 percent of prosumers and 68 percent of mainstream consumers; U.S. percentages were 71 percent and 60 percent respectively.

However, the survey also found that a greater percentage of people trusted insurance agents than the carriers – 41 percent of Americans, 36 percent of Germans, and 58 percent of Indians surveyed have an insurance agent they trust. “But those figures are much lower in China, France, and the U.K. (17 percent, 18 percent, and 14 percent, respectively).”

“In anxious times business for insurance companies should be like business for ice-cream companies during a hot summer: booming. It’s a shame that so many people feel unsure about the very industry that’s supposed to reassure them,” commented Don Hogle, Managing Director, Strategy, at the New York office of Euro RSCG Worldwide. “As with a lot of financial services, people perceive insurance as a commodity. The more consumers shop around and even take out policies online, the more we’ll see the difference between automatic policy renewal and true brand preference. Now more than ever it’s important to be not just another insurance company.”

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