Northwestern Mutual, the financial-services provider, has shifted its marketing focus towards demonstrating that it can help people achieve their immediate aims, rather than placing a greater emphasis on the more abstract, long-term future.

Aditi Gokhale, chief marketing officer at Northwestern Mutual, discussed this subject during a session at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Data and Measurement Conference.

“We reframed our consumer promise from an abstract ‘tomorrow’ business … to ‘let’s-make-it-a-today’ business with a plan that helps people enjoy their lives,” Gokhale said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Northwestern Mutual brand refresh shows it’s no longer “The Quiet Company”.)

This move was based on clear insights. “There is a constant struggle about the today and the tomorrow. We heard folks say, ‘Today is real.’ ‘Today is immediate.’ ‘Today is on fire.’ ‘Today is a necessity.’ ‘Today is in my control,’” Gokhale said.

“There also was a lot of emotion about tomorrow: ‘Tomorrow is abstract.’ ‘It’s intangible.’ ‘It’s a luxury.’ ‘It may never come.’ ‘It’s largely imperceptible.’ And, ‘I might die before tomorrow’.”

And the brand’s “Spend Your Life Living” integrated campaign began its repositioning last year. “I knew it was time we needed to focus more on what our consumers were telling us,” Gokhale said.

“We all know that consumers within financial services feel deep anxiety when it comes to money… But our goal goes beyond the obvious. We needed to dig for an insight that reveals something that is core and real to our target consumer – something that is new and innovative.”

To strike the proper balance of data and human insights, she continued, “We looked at attributes beyond just perception. We did qualitative and quantitative research.”

The top-line finding: “We had to move from a transactional to a relationship-based company,” Gokhale reported. It was also important to change the view that planning was only for the wealthy, the long term, and a fairytale retirement.

And the mandate for a refreshed Northwestern Mutual brand thus included creating a “personalised” experience, “move from the distant future to the today”, and focusing on “a great life now”.

Gokhale, “We followed a very methodical, data-driven process to reach our campaign idea. We looked at the category, we looked at the key barriers, we looked at the drivers, and the insights.”

Sourced from WARC