#LEAwards 2020 highlight: AIA Singapore’s golden playbook on CSR

Taking home the gold for Best use of CSR is AIA Singapore. The brand has made significant strides in establishing itself as a thought leader in health and wellness, showing that it is more than just an insurance company.

However with others insurers hot on its heels to get into the health space, and with new entrants looking to grab a slice of its pie, it knew it needed to be a partner for its consumers living “Healthier, Longer, Better Lives”.

Challenge

The insurance industry as a whole struggles with an image issue being labeled as an industry focused on profit-making. According to the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore), one big reason why people’s protection needs are not being met is because many remain cautious because of pre-existing perceptions about the industry.

Moreover, employee turnover rates across the insurance industry are also notoriously high among employees and agents alike, which is a cause for concern for all in the industry. This employee attrition is clearly at odds with AIA Singapore’s goal of being known as a partner in “Healthier, Longer, Better Lives”.

Also, with corporate social responsibility (CSR) becoming increasingly commonplace among companies, there are more skeptics who are cynical about the purpose of CSR, seeing it as an empty promise and convenient PR tool for corporate branding. As such AIA wanted to drive home the fact that it’s CSR isn’t merely for the sake it, but rather to contribute meaningfully to the communities it serves. This came as AIA’s brand health monitor report indicated that for the second half of 2018, AIA was strongly associated with professionalism and trustworthiness, yet it wasn’t as strongly associated with being a genuine company that cares.

Strategy

So the brand embarked on a journey to mobilise its CSR and win the hearts of customers, agents, and employees by:

  • Softening the brand positioning
  • Showing that it has a larger purpose beyond profit-making
  • Attracting and retaining talent by showing that it cares

AIA knew that the best way forward with the CSR initiative was not to simply engage in a pet project with little real benefit to society, or philanthropic activities, or propaganda-led campaigns in which CSR is aimed solely at improving a company’s reputation. It needed to build a ground-up movement, leveraging existing partnerships to involve all its stakeholders and partners.

According to its brand health study, current and prospective customers cared most about “Supporting Customers’ Lives” when it came to influencing their consideration when taking up an insurance policy. Furthermore, it found that its key competitors are not strongly associated with being a youthful or health-conscious brand among its core target audience: young families.

Noting this, AIA Singapore decided to look at its CSR strategy as not just as a single company trying to do good for society. Rather, it tapped on the talents and resources available through partnerships to involve every part of the community.

Community: from Old French comunete, reinforced by its source.

With 2019 being a big year for AIA as it celebrated its centennial milestone, the brand decided to take a step back, and return to its roots. As the Chinese idiom says, 饮水思源 (when you drink water, don’t forget to remember the source).

With this in mind, AIA established the AIA Centennial Fund, building on the group’s 100-year journey to continue as a valued partner. The strong alignment between its corporate values and a more sustainable business strategy is what made the AIA Centennial Fund its most meaningful CSR effort to date.

Its CSR activation would deliver on the following fronts:

  • Bring genuine benefits for its adopted charity beyond monetary donations
  • Strengthen AIA Singapore’s image as a responsible entity and active contributor to society
  • Do good for its bottom-line, improving brand health and brand recall

After taking stock of the different stakeholders that it had, and the diverse variety of partnerships unique to AIA, the team decided to use football as a focal point for its CSR efforts.

Given football’s popularity in Asia, the sport allowed AIA to distinguish itself from competitors. It also connected the dots between AIA and its brand promise of “Healthier, Longer, Better Lives”, while maximising existing marketing and sponsorship assets, keeping campaign costs lean, leading to more ROI for its adopted charity so more can go back to the children and families in need.

AIA Singapore chose the Children’s Wishing Well as its adopted charity for the AIA Centennial Fund because it believes that the family is the basic unit of society. Therefore, if it wanted to make meaningful change within society, the family was, without a question, the best place to start.

Execution

To implement its strategy, AIA Singapore adopted a three-prong approach to employ various tactics and mediums to maximise its reach.

1. Telling stories worth telling to drive word of mouth

With content creation, AIA made sure it was more than just a game. Social storytelling allowed it to adapt its content across multiple mediums – from articles, to videos, to infographics – ensuring that it speaks in the language of the different audience groups.

2. More love for the community offline

With any CSR effort, it is easy to run the risk of focusing disproportionately on the online coverage and neglecting the on-the-ground efforts. AIA was determined not to let this happen, and organised events designed to impact the lives of the communities it is serving directly.

3. Mobilising key opinion leaders to nurture a socially inclusive community

Having different players bring to life the true value of its football sponsorships would bring to Singaporeans, and drive influence through passion points that are close to customers’ hearts. With this three-prong strategy in mind, it embarked to engage multiple stakeholders and the entire community to help maximise the returns of its investments to channel them directly back to its adopted charity.

Starting with its engagement with football club Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) legend Teddy Sheringham, AIA Singapore brought together all its football partners and sponsorship assets.

It organised the first-ever AIA Football Kids Camp in Singapore in 2019, where 200 young footballers, including disadvantaged kids from Children’s Wishing Well were trained by Tottenham Hotspur Global Development coaches, supported by the Football Association of Singapore.

https://youtu.be/ipMmQjax4Ek

With #AIASquadGoals, it employed the help of the 100-strong AIA Squad, comprising 100 representatives from the Children’s Wishing Well, the football community, Spurs players and fans, members and players of the Football Association of Singapore and Singapore Premier League, and members of the AIA leadership, to set a Singapore record of fastest consecutive football passes.

https://youtu.be/xrYJF6724uw

The record-setting football was sold, and proceeds from the record-setting football and the International Champions Cup (ICC) silent auction went towards the AIA Centennial Fund, but more importantly, AIA managed to activate such a wide and diverse community to come together to work towards a common cause. In December 2019, young aspiring footballers from Children’s Wishing Well was sent to an elite training camp with Tottenham Hotspur Global Development coaches to hone their skills and achieve their dreams, in line with AIA Singapore's vision and mission of empowering Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.

Results

Through these initiatives, AIA Singapore was able to target a wide range of media publications, ranging from mainstream media publications such as The Business Times and Berita Harian, to lifestyle publications such as Yahoo! And rally the community in the fun.

Overall the brand also saw a majority share of voice in earned media and managed to extend its reach and engagement with its target audience through creative and strategic social media efforts, delivering a bang for its buck.

Business results for the brand grew tremendously with IFRS Operating Profit After Tax (OPAT) increasing by 6% to US$583 million, with underlying business growth partly offset by continuing pressure on the profitability of HealthShield portfolio. Total Weighted Premium Income (TWPI) achieved 8% growth supported by increase in regular premiums.

AIA Singapore reported US$352 million of Value of New Business (VONB) in 2019 as Annualized New Premium (ANP) was flat compared with 2018, reflecting lower single premium sales in its nonexclusive partnership distribution channels.

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