By Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
Simon Lam, chief executive officer of Generali Insurance (Thailand), said the company had not spent a lot of time previously in developing the Thailand market but now wanted to build a stronger presence here.
"Very few people in Thailand know Generali at this moment. However, we’re preparing to invest in branding and to build our awareness in the marketplace. We want to create successful and cost-effective brand visibility and to find the right touch-points with consumers to advertise and promote our brand," he said.
Generali, based in Italy, started selling insurance in Thailand in 2002, with both life and non-life licences.
Lam said Generali was the third-largest in Europe in terms of premium income, and ranked 48th among this year’s Fortune Global 500 companies by revenue.
"The Asian region is now contributing only 1 per cent of total revenue earned by Generali Insurance, while about 90 per cent of the business is from Europe," Lam said.
The company now operates in eight Asian markets, namely Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and India.
He said Thailand was a priority in the firm’s growth strategy in Asia. "We believe in the future of the Thailand market."
He said the company was now looking at Thailand’s non-life market. About 25 per cent of that market belongs to corporate clients. Of the individual customer base, about 60 per cent is in car insurance.
"Thailand is a strong regional hub for manufacturing. A lot of multinational firms have also set up their manufacturing plants as well as business operations in the Kingdom," Lam said.
He also noted that the government was planning big infrastructure projects.
"The Kingdom [will also be] an important hub for manufacturing under the Asean Economic Community to be effective next year," Lam said.
Thailand has a large number of younger people and a rising middle class. The economy is starting to recover. Such factors have created a lot of potential for insurance business, both commercial and individual. Thailand has a lot of business potential for both accident and health insurance as well.
"For Generali, we have set up two points of our global strategy. First, we want to develop our corporate insurance business. Second, we also want to grow strongly in accident and health insurance," Lam said.
He said Generali this year had set up a regional centre of competence in Hong Kong for both strategies.
"This year, we’re starting a new journey of strong growth in Asia, particularly Thailand," said Lam, adding that the company had just begun offering car insurance in the Thai market in June.
In Thailand, Generali Insurance reported 13 million euros (Bt529 million) in non-life premiums last year, ranking 43rd.
"We want to increase our revenue and ranking in Thailand. We also want to boost our representation in the market by growing profitability via the cross-selling approach," he said.
He added that the market for personal insurance in Thailand was not very sophisticated. Many players have relied more on an approach that focused on what they wanted to sell rather than what the customers really needed.
"With the cross-selling approach, we will focus on customer-centric [service] by providing multiple insurance products that really match the life-stage needs as well as protecting our customers’ lifestyles. We have designed products that cater to their needs."
Lam said Generali had been working with brokers, agents and other retail companies to sell its insurance policies. The company had also used multiple distribution channels to reach customers. These included telemarketing and the Internet.
He said that based on the company’s global survey conducted few months ago on 21,000 clients, there are five key reasons customers choose a particular insurance company. They are:
1. Value for money.
2. Is the insurance company responsive to their needs?
3. Is the insurance company easy to deal with?
4. Does it have friendly and approachable staff?
5. Does it deliver on its promises?