MarketWell Voices: Amy Gibbons on how Canada Life shows Canadians that it cares
This month we spoke with Amy Gibbons, Assistant Vice President, Marketing, Individual Customer (Insurance & Wealth) at Canada Life about how the company supported Canadians’ health and wellbeing during the pandemic while also growing the business.
Let’s start with a brief description of what your role entails. What’s your business objective, and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I lead the Individual Customer Product Marketing team at Canada Life. In this role, I’m responsible for a team of professionals who drive our marketing strategy for investments, insurance products and advisor and customer experiences.
The pandemic has had us all longing for a sense of security and certainty, particularly when it comes to our wellbeing. What insights have guided you in evolving your strategy at Canada Life?
Our purpose at Canada Life is to improve the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians. The pandemic has been an opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and show those values in action. Our goals throughout the pandemic specifically have been two-fold—to keep our people safe, healthy and productive and to grow our business through our dedicated network of advisors, great customer service, products and a strong brand. Those principles have helped guide us at every turn.
We’ve used specific insights to guide our strategy, too. Our market research indicates that Canadians are thinking more about their wellbeing since the start of the pandemic, and this means they’re thinking about things like life insurance in particular. We also know that 32% of Canadians are not insured and 55% feel unprepared for their financial futures. That’s where Canada Life and financial advisors can help.
We know the pandemic negatively impacted many Canadians’ financial well-being. And in other cases, some have fared well and saved money on things like childcare or travel, for example. In those scenarios, we’re seeing increased savings rates. Again, working with an advisor can help Canadians build a financial plan that meets their unique circumstances, goals and objectives.
How about you, personally? What lessons can you share with our readers from experiences living and managing your team and your brand through the pandemic?
I’m very proud of how our organization has navigated through the pandemic. When it first hit, we immediately transitioned to having 95% of our employees working from home in a matter of weeks, and our team continues to thrive. We’ve also been able to find new ways to give back to small businesses, charitable organizations and others who needed support along the way.
We’ve always talked about being a “caring company” but, our compassion for our employees, our communities and our customers shone through every decision we made.
The biggest lesson here is that we’re more flexible and creative than we ever thought possible. We can continue to use this mindset to adapt and improve in the future. I think and hope we can take the lessons we’ve learned during this time and bring them with us as we move forward.
As for what I’ve learned personally, I believe I’m much more patient with the team and with myself than I was before. I’ve also learned more about how I can lead by example. Our team has mental health check-ins, I encourage daily walks and activities during the day, and I’m open and honest about how hard it’s been to adapt to being a working parent with small children at home.
It’s so important to look after your team’s mental and physical health and it truly makes a difference for them as people. I also don’t take myself as seriously – how can I when my children and dogs join my Teams calls at the most inopportune times? It’s made me a more authentic and relatable leader.
What have you learned in your sectors that would apply to other areas of wellbeing marketing?
I think you need to be authentic. Consumers can see through brands that try to be purposeful but then have products, policies or experiences that are inconsistent. Your brand values need to live and breathe in everything you do.
The pandemic has changed the way the world thinks about wellbeing. What are the top three changes you have observed? How would you say this has impacted your marketing approach?
- The pandemic has encouraged us to think about our mental, physical and financial wellbeing with more intention. Our normal routines, support networks, and even livelihoods have had to shift as we’ve gone in and out of various stages of lockdowns. We’re adaptable, but we’re human. We need connection. Brands that can create that connection with their consumers will win.
- Consumers want you to see them as individuals and want you to offer products and services that meet their unique needs and goals.
- Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the critical importance of experts like scientists, health care professionals and more. In many industries, Canadians need expert guidance to help them cut through the noise and offer real and pragmatic advice. There will be lots of information thrown out to them, pushing them to be bold or take more risks, and I believe they‘ll rely on brands like Canada Life to be a voice of reason.
12 out of 3 households (68 percent) have either group or individual life coverage. This rate is unchanged from 2013, but it is down 11 points from 2006.
So, we can say 32% of Canadian households are not at all insured.
(Source: pg. 11, Canadian Life Insurance Ownership Study – 2019 Household Trends by LIMRA
255% Canadians think they may not have as much income as expected in the future during retirement.
(Source: Journey to retirement 2020, Canada Life study)