Skip to main content

Consumers' Digital Engagement Varies Category-by-Category

Everyone is very fond of throwing out the rules these days,
and frankly, some of them deserve to be given the boot tip. Our personal
favorite: 'People glued to a commercial all the way through means they are
actually engaged with the brand.' Hmmm. We have two words for you: Go Daddy.

But here is one rule that continues to hold, whether you are
talking about how consumers make decisions about brands or how they engage with
digital communication platforms: Category matters. Always. Even when those
categories are huddled under the same company-logo umbrella, such as 'insurance.'

It's difficult to discern the part digital platforms play in
the media-engagement equation. Sure, you can discover easily enough what your
current customers are doing in terms of any media, including digital. But
paraphrasing Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck, "What you don't know about
digital is a lot."

The missing frame in this media movie is how consumers'
digital engagement -- not just usage -- operates within the context of total engagement in your category. Knowing
exactly how engagement with media -- digital or otherwise -- intersects with what
drives it matters a lot.

For instance, digital behaves very differently when you
compare, say, the auto insurance category to the property & casualty
(P&C) insurance category. And some of those differences become especially
vital when trying to make your media dollars work strategically. Here are the
top five digital engagement platforms in these two categories:

Auto Insurance

  1. Browsing
  2. Shopping Portal
  3. Social Network
  4. Mobile
  5. Email

Property/Casualty Insurance

  1. Brand's Website
  2. Browsing
  3. Shopping Portal
  4. Search
  5. Email

Common to both (they have, after all, been seen bundling up
together) are brand messages on browsing and shopping portals, as well as
through email. However, when it comes to auto insurance, mobile and social make
a strong showing, while, on the P&C side, the brand's website and doing a
search are offer stronger consumer engagement.

When you drill down to where engagement with digital
platforms and insurance categories meet, a more insightful pattern begins to
show. Unless you're Jay Leno, autos are a far less significant investment for
consumers than home and property. Doing more background research and hearing
from the brand in its own way on its site becomes go-to for P&C insurance shoppers.

And while demographics no longer define the "Higitals" among
us-those with high digital involvement in a category, and thus more engaged in
platforms such as social and mobile -- it still holds that there is currently a
slant toward a younger demo on social and mobile -- namely, a demographic that
might own a car but not yet property.

The moral of this story is that one engagement plan does not
fit all. But there's some good news -- winter's coming, and some of those
cross-category digital usage reports you've been buying may make great draft

Passikoff is founder and president of Brand Keys, a global
brand and engagement consultancy. He can be reached at
Shea is executive VP, director of global brand development at Brand Keys. She
can be reached at