TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017: How Sovereign’s healthy option won it Best use of Customer Insight/Data

The challenge

New Zealand’s health insurance market is extremely competitive, and with its independent, financial advisers demanding Sovereign become competitive or leave the health insurance category, the company knew it had to change.

New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate in the OECD and one of the worst diabetes problems in the developed world, making health insurance a di cult environment in which to succeed. With price competition, high claims rates and new entrants joining the health insurance sector, the need to stand out is imperative.

Company research was unequivocal in its findings. Providers were seen as homogenous and Kiwis were growing disenchanted, viewing health insurance as expensive and increasingly beyond reach. Policy lapse-rates were rising and total New Zealand policy ownership was declining. 

Sovereign knew it had to be disruptive to attract new customers. It needed to engage the existing customer base and re-engage its financial advisers. Its brand promise: “Sovereign. Life. Take Charge”, demanded that it avoid continuing with its traditional marketing and become innovative in its thinking and authentic in its delivery. 

The response

To counter the growing disenchantment in the market, ‘Healthy by Sovereign’ was created with the objective of motivating and rewarding consumers to engage with their health by combining big data with health behavioural science.

It’s New Zealand’s first health programme to reward Kiwis for behaviours rather than purchases. The programme applies ‘Nudge’ behavioural science theory to positively reinforce small and easily achieved behaviours.

Sovereign managed to persuade competing brands to form a health coalition to help build its value proposition of rewards for healthy choices. Nine gym brands funded exclusive discounts, New World agreed to participate, and Garmin, Fitbit and Noel Leeming all agreed that members could buy their products direct at some of New Zealand’s lowest prices.

‘Healthy by Sovereign’ helps members, assess and understand their health by determining their Health Age via a bespoke health science behavioural tool called the Health Age Calculator. 

It determines a person’s true health age in relation to their chronological age. Members claim health points for achieving weekly adjustments in four behaviours: movement (measured via daily steps recorded on a Fitbit or Garmin activity tracker), exercise (tracked via attendance at one of its partner gyms, including Les Mills, Jetts and Club Physical), nutrition (measured by uploading a New World shopping receipt that included fresh meat, fruit or veggies) and general health and wellbeing (measured by uploading a receipt for dental, optical or health check-ups). 

A bespoke data environment aggregates usage data from personal activity trackers, gyms, dentists and health centres to award points, and displays them in an app and responsive website.

Points are redeemed for an annual cashback to offset against insurance premiums and other rewards to spend on fitness activities.

Part of the launch strategy was to provoke a media discussion about New Zealand’s real health. Sovereign commissioned research using the Health Age calculator to uncover the true state of the country’s health and seed a media debate.

1,500 consumers completed Sovereign’s Health Age calculator and the results were drama sed in social video. Sovereign also integrated digital content with PR to amplify the media debate on New Zealanders’ real health age. 

Journalists just couldn’t resist discovering whether their health age was younger or older than their true age, thus creating national coverage on TV and in print, which was linked to an invitation for consumers to take the survey.

This was followed with video content, SEO, display and print explaining the ‘Healthy by Sovereign’ proposition. Direct channels, internal marketing and an adviser road show amplified the programme to eligible customers, with all responses going into a bespoke email programme for Sovereign to convert leads into adviser enquiries.

The results

After four months, eligible policyholders joining the programme, health insurance quote requests and independent advisers’ leads all completely surpassed expectations.

There has been improved channel effectiveness, an improved customer conversion rate and cost per member has reduced substantially. There has also been an uplift in health insurance policies sold and a corresponding increase in health policy estimates.

Over the longer term, ‘Healthy by Sovereign’ will reduce health issues, claims, and could lower the burden on New Zealand’s national healthcare.

Sovereign has managed to disrupt its category by creating New Zealand’s only loyalty programme to reward health behavioural change rather than purchases. ‘Healthy by Sovereign’ isn’t a marketing campaign—it’s a step towards brand transformation and a shift into big data and customer centricity. 

Best Use of Customer Insight/Data
Campaign Name
Healthy By Sovereign
Company Name
Sovereign Insurance
Judge’s Comment
“The insight that personalises your health age and thus nudges people out of denial is key to the programme developed by Sovereign and its success in this category. Effective use of the date to improve conversion and decrease cost to serve was clever. A loyalty programme to reward healthy behaviours resulted.”
Marketing Partners
Chemistry Interaction, Applause Communications
Auckland Transport, BP Oil New Zealand, Countdown Supermarkets, Lion, Trade Me 

  • This story will also appear in the Awards issue of NZ Marketing. 
  • To read more on the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017, click here.

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