Health insurers are targeting a new audience: you. If the health care law's individual mandate remains intact, the companies could be looking at 120 million new potential customers by 2020, an analyst tells the New York Times. Regardless of the Supreme Court decision on the law, insurers believe the future of their industry lies with individual consumers rather than employee group plans. That poses a serious hurdle for the firms: "They are among the most disliked industries in the United States," says a business professor and author.
So in addition to spending more on advertising—$789 million last year compared to $668 million the year before—insurers are cozying up to consumers rather than businesses. A Humana ad emphasizes family; Cigna is pushing a "Go You" campaign; Aetna trumpets "the potential of putting people first." The companies are attempting to shift from simply insurers to health firms in a broader sense. On the way, they're adopting standard retail marketing tricks, such as loyalty programs and Groupon-style offers. "In the group space, health plans could never hear the consumer scream, but in the retail space, everybody can hear the consumer scream," says an industry insider. Daily Intel has some of the weirder new slogans. (Read more Cigna stories.)