To compete in the consumer market, more than brand awareness is needed to differentiate one carrier from another. For years, the largest employers have received more personal attention from carriers and have had access to more customized products and services. The brand value perceived by these large employers is needed at the individual consumer level to stand apart from the competition in ways that are meaningful to customers.
A key differentiator. Moving forward, brand will play an important role as one of the few differentiators in an exchange environment. When most of the benefits are regulated and plans are displayed side-by-side in an exchange, brand and price are the two most distinctive differences between competing plans.
Brand means more than just size. Previously synonymous with network and company size, in the future, brands will need to be based on responsiveness, adaptability and innovation to stay ahead of the competition. Brands must do more than just be well known and financially stable. To create a value proposition, brands must offer better quality, better service and preferred providers relative to the competition and at a comparable monthly premium.
Long-time insurers could quickly lose their brand advantage. In consumer exchange simulation tests, fictitious brands perform as well as most second and third tier brands in markets throughout the country. This leaves the market wide open for new entrants like CVS, Walgreens and WalMart and well-known health care providers like Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, etc. to compete head-to-head with establish brands.