Faaez Samadi
Sep 6, 2019

“We want to be 100 years young”: AIA CMO

The insurer is celebrating its centennial this year, and Stuart Spencer is already focused on how the brand can get ahead in the next century.

Spurs stars taking part in an AIA Community Day in Singapore (Source: AIA)
Spurs stars taking part in an AIA Community Day in Singapore (Source: AIA)

As the brand celebrates its centenary in 2019, AIA group CMO Stuart Spencer says the insurer cannot rest on its laurels if it wants to still be around in another 100 years’ time.

Spencer is extremely proud of AIA’s legacy, and that it remains a leading independent insurer in Asia-Pacific. The company has been reaping the rewards of its new brand promise, ‘Healthier, longer, better lives’ since it launched last year, to the extent that AIA was the top insurer in Campaign’s Asia’s Top 1000 Brands study this year.

“We see higher levels of brand awareness, consideration, since we’ve been on ‘Healthier, longer, better lives’ and we see that translate into high levels of agent activity, and more of our customers telling our agents that they came to AIA because they were inspired by our brand promise,” Spencer says.  

But he’s also very keen not to take AIA’s position for granted, and thus the brand has forged ahead with improving its offering in ways that live up to its brand promise. One of the critical components, Spencer explains, is targeting more young people.

“As part of our evolution—I say 100 years young versus 100 years old—we want to be attractive to younger people, be where they are, have attractive solutions for them, and we want to stand for something that younger people would respect,” he says. “As an organisation that has customers over the course of their life, ideally we acquire new customers when they’re younger, and we maintain those relationships with them throughout their life.”

One way in which AIA is achieving this is the continuation of its sponsorship with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, which the insurer has just extended until 2027 as the club’s global principal partner. For Spencer, there’s almost no better way to demonstrate AIA’s commitment to making people healthier than teaming up with elite athletes.

“We’re tying everything in to support the brand promise,” he says. “More activations, more engagement, more correlation with us, Spurs and our branding. We’re delighted with how things are now, and there’s so much we have planned to do over the next three years.”

That includes creating more sharp content leveraging the Spurs “assets” ("players" to the rest of us) that resonates with younger consumers on the right platforms, and also driving greater experiences tied to the Spurs brand. “We’ll have more hospitality, more contests, more promotions bringing more people to London," he says. "More social-media activity, more tie-ins with Spurs players cooking healthy dishes, telling us how to get a healthy night’s sleep, telling how to best sit at a desk for a long time.”

The new brand promise feeds into the fundamental shift AIA has been driving for its identity and the insurance industry more broadly, says Spencer, which is to become a partner to their consumers, and rather bluntly, “move away from that ‘you die, we pay’ model”.

Stuart Spencer

“We continue to become less transactional and more relational with our customers, and that takes up a lot of my time,” he says. “AIA has become purpose-led and customer-centric, and I have to make sure everything we do stands up to that.”

Spencer also admits that AIA’s focus on healthier lives in Asia is timed to chime with people in the region who are benefiting from increasing wealth, which the brand wants access to.

“People recognise that if I’m becoming more affluent, I want to be able to enjoy my wealth in a healthy way for as long as I possibly can," he says. "So the consciousness is very timely, and in the insurance space we want to be the representative leader that can deliver that. AIA Vitality is our principal mechanism by which we enable that, but we also try to raise awareness even if you’re not a customer—maybe you will be in the future—to enable that association: ‘If I want to be able to enjoy my life, a relationship with AIA is a good thing’.”

Spencer says AIA has many things planned, beyond the Vitality programme, to take the brand promise “to the next level,” both on its own and with Spurs. He is aware of his lofty ambition, to make AIA top of mind for consumers thinking about health and wellbeing, but he is confident enough in both the brand’s 100-year legacy and its future-forward identity for it to be an exciting, achievable challenge.

“We’ve been prolific and successful for the first 100 years, but the last thing we ever want to be is complacent. We have to got to be reshaping the industry in the next 100 years the same way we led in the first 100.”

  • Related: Spencer is a member of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Power List of the region's most influential brand marketers

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