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Creating a Forward-Thinking Digital Strategy for Allianz

A user experience for any life context, any channel, and any content

Allianz is an international financial services company headquartered in Munich, Germany. Its core businesses are insurance and asset management.

Back in 2009, merely 2 years after the introduction of the very first iPhone and during a time when Facebook was still the “next big thing”, Allianz decided to augment its digital presence to remain relevant to its target audience. By using channel-specific trends, it wanted to construct innovation platforms for its digital services. Allianz had already created the “Digital Home” platform adjacent to its corporate site and product/local sites but it lacked direction and a consistent concept.

Allianz asked Vivaldi Partners to help this effort by developing a digital strategy and leadership workshops (within marketing and other cross-functional teams) that would help them to better understand digital natives’ behaviors, habits, challenges. The reason for doing this was to ultimately foster and intensify positive perceptions among young, internet-savvy and price-oriented consumers through relevant and innovative digital services.

Together, we worked to gain a clear and very deep understanding of life contexts, drivers and motivations for the (regular) use of digital services, and, through that, gain a basis for the identification of relevant issues of Allianz’ various customers. We wanted to reach customers at the key situations and most emotional moments in their lives so first uncover what they were and in which channels they occurred (both online and offline). Based on these insights, a consistent concept and communication strategy was developed for the Digital Home platform.

Our Digital Concept Camp provided the unique opportunity for Allianz’ senior management not only to passively observe from behind the screen: They were able to closely interact and co-create with their lead users and deeply immerse into their perspective to formulate a winning strategy that taps into customer’s digital ecosystem.

Christian Wank, Senior Engagement Manager at Vivaldi Partners

Working alongside “tomorrow’s customers”

We started by studying Lead Users (i.e. trendsetters in the digital space encompassing B2B & B2C customers, startup founders, social media influencers, bloggers, payments experts, etc.) and generating relevant customer insights about them. The selection of these lead users was a grinding two-stage process and encompassed a screening of 10.000 online panelists as well as a physical pre-selection session. We then studied them in a workshop setting. These workshops uncovered the strong and increasing need for reliable and relevant information related to maintaining a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. For instance, in the midst of growing uncertainty about state pensions in Germany, customers found (emotional) support for personal retirement highly relevant for them.

Following these workshops and these insights, we developed and launched the “Digital Concept-Camp” that served as a blueprint for country-specific innovation workshops. It was a highly intensive 2-day workshop where Vivaldi Partners experts led a big team of Allianz senior management and challengers with deep digital expertise.

Ten Lead Users from the initial customer insights workshop were selected to attend the Digital Concept-Camps as participants who could help immerse the Allianz teams in the world of digital natives. The Allianz observer team could watch all user team interactions from behind the screen and learn “on the spot” from their opinions and expressed behaviors. It was not just about “listening” and generating “insights” but rather serving a “common approach to development”, based on the discussions and exercises. Different concept and exploration levels were covered by three different session formats: plenary discussions, work group exercises and “Gallery Walks” (for feedback on a broad range of stimulus material).

Together we developed a concept for Digital Home by evaluating all the materials that had been generated by Vivaldi Partners and Allianz. During this process, we identified three relevant innovation platforms for Allianz’ digital services: mobility, retirement, and health. The main associations related to mobility all centered around independence, flexibility, travelling, “accessing my personal data anywhere and anytime”, and data security.

When discussing mobility, one of the lead users indicated: “Mobility for me is about my smartphone. If I lose my driving license, I just can hop on a train or bus. But if I lose my smartphone, I am totally stuck.” For an insurance company that would normally only think about car insurance policies from the perspective of the policy itself, this provided a completely new challenge and opportunity to think outside the box and frame things from the perspective of the customer.

We heard similar statements when discussing retirement and health. Retirement conjured rich associations around it being a cheerless topic, something that felt like too much investment for too little results, or that forced involuntary budget constraints in my daily life, something that felt like a burden, was doubtful and too abstract a concept and ultimately something that felt inflexible. Health brought up associations related to it being very subjective based on the current context, personal environment, something of a status symbol, something that helped with mental balance, being more disciplined, too expensive, and not quite relevant for most people until a certain life stage.

Ultimately, the three platforms of mobility, retirement and health were re-evaluated from the outside-in and helped us develop concepts that could add value to the daily lives of Allianz customers.

Building A Smart Roadmap

The Digital Concept-Camp and the insights gathered resulted in numerous creative ideas and approaches and served as a trigger for ongoing innovation and digital transformation projects among the senior staff, based on customer-centric immersion and co-creation. We developed a roadmap for the development and implementation of the identified projects as quick-win outputs (e.g., social media guidelines, apps for Allianz employees and the agency force).

One example of a concept that was developed as a result of this work is now called the Allianz Travel-Smart app (https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com/travelsmart.htm) that allows customers to store information as well as copies of personal documents like IDs, credit cards and other travel documents on their smartphone. The same app also includes additional functionality related to the contexts we uncovered around mobility. These include an information guide for emergency situations, individual hotlines, addresses of close relatives, information about any personal medical issues, booking confirmations, and more. This information can then be accessed by rescue teams looking to make the right first aid decisions and also helps them easily reach emergency contacts.

Meet The Expert

Expert Image
Erich Joachimsthaler, Ph.D.

CEO & Founder

Erich is a rare combination of consultant, entrepreneur, academic, researcher, author and positive contrarian. He is the Founder and CEO of Vivaldi, which is a 150-person independent strategy, brand, and innovation marketing consulting firm . Time permitting, Erich also serves as a Visiting Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at IESE since 1995. He first joined IESE full-time professor in 1989 after completing his Post-Doctoral Fellowship work at Harvard Business School. IESE is ranked globally one of the top ten MBA programs in 2017, and is ranked the world’s No. 1 executive program by The Financial Times in 2015 and 2016.