“Uncovering Implicit Customer Needs for Determining Explicit Product Positioning: Growing Prudential Annuities Variable Annuity Sales” by V. Kumar (Georgia State University), and Denish Shah (Georgia State University).
A variable annuity (VA) is a popular product for investing retirement savings. However, there are thousands of similar sounding variable annuity products being offered by hundreds of financial service companies. In such a scenario, could Prudential achieve a meaningful product differentiation to grow its VA sales? The business challenge motivated this work and led to the development and implementation of the ‘Emotion Quotient’ (EQ) Tool. The EQ Tool enabled Prudential to redefine its marketing and selling approach along a proactive (as opposed to responsive) market orientation paradigm. This was accomplished by applying the EQ Tool to uncover and quantify the prevalence of certain emotions (such as fear and regret) in the prospective customer. Prevalence of emotions revealed the behavioral risk of the prospective customer and hence an implicit need for a product to mitigate the risk. Consequently, the financial planner applied the unique customer insights derived from the diagnostics of the EQ Tool to pitch the appropriate VA product to each customer. Such an approach enabled Prudential to gain a multi-million dollar lift in VA sales while contributing to consumer welfare by promoting awareness of behavioral risk to investors.