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State Farm vs. GEICO: Assessing the Insurers

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How would you like to work in an industry in which you are frequently characterized as a necessary evil? 

Your customers are mandated by law to buy your coverage, and product usage usually occurs when the customer is experiencing minor or severe stress. 

Welcome to the world of auto insurance. 

The Koski Research Engagement IQ has studied two property and casualty insurance companies (State Farm and GEICO) – companies that offer auto, homeowners and other types of insurance products that cover stuff that can be lost, stolen, bent, folded or mutilated.

State Farm (the largest) goes to market in a very agent-centric way. 

GEICO (by some accounts the fastest growing) presents itself in an edgier way – mainly with a gecko and a pig – and emphasizes technology. 

Both are very successful, but in the Engagement IQ State Farm beats GEICO 27.6 to 9.8.

How could this be when GEICO outspends State Farm on advertising by a couple of hundred million smackeroos a year? 

It is not about negatives.  Neither firm is really seen as arrogant, secretive or dishonest. 

The difference is in the positives. 

GEICO more often is seen as hip. 

State Farm more often is seen as smart and thoughtful. 

(BTW, Taylor Swift also scores high on hip and more middle of the pack on smart.)

Also, consumers are much more likely to support State Farm by posting on Facebook, reading articles and wanting to have lunch with the CEO:

So the question for marketers in general, and financial services firms in particular, is how hip do you want to be? 

Hip can be successful, but do you want to pay the price in perceptions of smarts and thoughtfulness?

Or maybe Jeff Foxworthy was right when he said, “Between New York and LA, there’s 200 million people that aren’t hip, and they don’t want to be hip.”

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