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How MassMutual’s in-house startup Haven Life targets millennials

  • MassMutual's in-house startup Haven Life is marketing to millennials by associating insurance with customers' positive life milestones
  • Haven Life's autonomy let it stay focused on its target demographic and adapt quickly
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How MassMutual’s in-house startup Haven Life targets millennials
For 167-year-old MassMutual, millennials demanded a new approach to life insurance than selling insurance through agents. "We're aiming at the next generation of insurance buyers -- millennial parents in their mid-30s who are married, have children, are digitally savvy, and are looking for self-directed ways to buy term life insurance," said Brittney Burgett, marketing and communications director at Haven Life. Haven Life, which recently turned 3, is part of a trend among large banks and insurers to set up new brands, some of which take the form of in-house startups aimed at younger customers. Notable examples include Pacific Life's in-house impact investment startup Swell and Lulo, Liberty Mutual's consumer brand for rental insurance. Haven Life's approach to reaching young consumers meant giving life insurance a new narrative. Instead of being something to protect against a scary event most people don't want to talk about, it's now being associated with life's evolutionary phases. So as policy holders hit milestones like buying a house or having a child, buying life insurance is associated with progress in life. "We're taking an approach where it's a celebratory experience; buying life insurance is associated with the best moments in people's lives," said Adam Weinberg, content director at Haven Life. The company used a customer survey to underline findings in its 2017 annual report, drawing attention to milestones in people's lives: 20 percent bought a home, 29 percent got a promotion, and so on. Earlier this year, it gave customers Valentine's Day greeting cards called "coveragegrams" to share the news that they bought life insurance.haven-life-coveraegram "We created these Valentine's Day 'coveragegrams' around the idea that 'I love to tell my partner that I got a policy' -- this is all building up to our interest and belief in one-on-one personalization," Weinberg said. More recently, the company has been using data to cut down on applications that aren't completed. This week, after a customer completes an initial online application and as the company waits for additional steps like a medical exam or additional documentation, Haven Life began using video rendering software Imposium to develop personalized videos that include basic data about the individual such as their name and gender, birth date and month, and occupation.

"It's an example of us as a brand inserting some humor and levity to life insurance, an experience that most people don't expect to have," said Burgett. While it's too early to tell if the video experiment will reduce incomplete applications, the company said a soft-launch last week yielded encouraging results. Haven Life's separateness from its parent company lets it move fast. "When you have a company [like MassMutual] that's grounded in an agent-driven model, you also have the bias on how the product is designed and how the process is," said Aite Group senior analyst Samantha Chow. Haven Life is based in New York, away from MassMutual's Springfield, Massachusetts headquarters. Maintaining Haven Life's autonomy is critical to its strategy, according to MassMutual. "We chose to keep Haven Life distinctly separate from MassMutual to provide it with the autonomy it needs to foster creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit," said Gareth Ross, MassMutual's chief digital and customer experience officer.  

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