How Allianz is shifting from a push to pull company

Five Questions with Serge Raffard, Group Strategy, Marketing, Distribution Officer, Allianz SE

We believe there is a shift from organization-led brands to brand-led organizations (e.g. Disney, Amazon, Apple) where the business is the commercial manifestation of a powerful brand. Do you recognize this shift? What are the challenges and opportunities in it?

Customer centricity stands at the center of our strategy and in everything we do. We are making great progress on our journey from shifting from a push to a pull company. This being said, this journey is anything but smooth sailing: re-investing gains efficiently into a stronger brand and better customer experience requires persistence and good argumentation.

And in industries with a strong distribution focus like ours, the combination of a robust brand with our physical footprint in local communities is powerful. Our agents not only represent the direct point of contact and extension to the local communities but have become key for our brand campaigns. Those intermediaries, agents, distribution, and salespeople are brand ambassadors who transform a before-point of sale into a physical customer experience delivering on our purpose 鈥淲e secure your future鈥.

Thus, a powerful brand necessitates a strong focus on customer experience. Companies such as Disney, Amazon, and Apple have set out to create the best customer experience possible for their patrons. And the obsession to delight and surprise them is what has brought them their customers鈥 trust and loyalty. Therefore, as we make this shift ourselves, the main challenge we see is to bring the whole organization along our journey and create a true customer centric culture. But the opportunity lies in our depths and spread of expertise in Allianz. When each of our over 155,000 colleagues come to the office thinking 鈥樷橶hat can I do today to provide a better experience for our customers?鈥, is where we see a real transformation of Allianz and the Allianz brand. The fact that we now have more than 60% of our businesses loyalty leaders shows we are on the right path. Thank you Allianzers!

Our Best Global Brands data suggests that brands who not only provide superb experiences but also take a leading stance on social issues are more relevant to consumers. How are you approaching this in your organization?

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) has been and will continue to be very high on our strategic agenda. While we already have a leading position in 鈥淓鈥 (e.g. with our leadership role in the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance) we are, in parallel, focusing on the 鈥淪鈥. A social company, like Allianz, takes care of their people and customers. Here, we could highlight our strong positioning in supporting the people from Ukraine with EUR 12,5mn donations along the passionate engagement of our employees or our recently launched MoveNow program, which stands as another strong proof point. With this program we recognize the impact the pandemic has had on the younger generation and have committed ourselves to create opportunities that support the well-being through sports and movement.

And, we have integrated this social thinking in our customer experience design process and our measurement. The societal experience is one of the three experiences we want our customers to perceive from the Allianz brand. We measure our progress on this dimension via our newly released digital NPS.

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) has been and will continue to be very high on our strategic agenda.”

Why, in a recession, should a business continue to invest in their brand? How do you think the investment in brand and marketing, will evolve or change over the next 12 鈥 18 months?

In challenging times like recession, we need to be there for our customers and employees even more. Market shares are being redistributed in time of crises and data show that brands benefit over-proportionally from (out) spending in difficult economic or political times. As a side effect, this builds on the perceived trust and resilience of brands.

A strong brand builds the foundation to gain and maintain trust in the relationship with our customers and stakeholders. The digital marketing plays an important role to support creating relevant content such as websites, campaigns, and communication and activities at all touchpoints – offline and online with customers and prospects. In the next 12-18 months, we focus on setting the scene for technical readiness by implementing and activating state-of-the art MarTech solutions globally. With a full funnel marketing we are aiming to consistently address our RoPo customers by enabling our sales force to work successfully with available marketing and brand assets.

The Allianz brand will be there!

How has your competition evolved over the past 24 months? Where are you seeing or experiencing the greatest threats? What are the biggest opportunities? Are you seeing new or surprising competitors entering the space?

With the world in turbulence and big macro shifts, there is increased demand for specific areas of insurance such as Natural Catastrophe and Cyber and in asset management such as financing of new infrastructures. This requires the strength of large providers like Allianz which have the strength and breadth of offering. 

In addition, there is flight to quality with a strong financial outlook and further increasing weight of the Allianz brand for clients making purchase decisions.

These are some of the reasons supporting the very strong growth in our brand value of +23% in 2022.

We have come to recognize brands as being powerful acts of leadership. In what ways do your brand鈥檚 moves reflect you/your organization鈥檚 belief system?

We are living our purpose 鈥淲e secure your future鈥 in everything we do, day in and day out. Even if it takes bold decisions to turn our world-famous Allianz Arena in Munich into Ukrainian colors or if it is about staying on the course whilst believing in the values of the Olympic & Paralympic Movements in controversial times. Consequently, we are increasing consistency of our brand globally and attractiveness of our new positioning 鈥濩onfidence in tomorrow鈥, together with strong values shape, care, deliver – even more important in challenging and insecure times.