Millennials are no longer a niche market for insurers. Increasingly, they are the market. A bigger generation than even the baby boomers, millennials are already the largest consumer group in both the UK and US.
In the latter they are expected to spend $200 billion a year from 2017, and $10 trillion in their lifetime. They are, according to IBM's "smarter commerce" marketing leader for insurance company Lynn Kesterson-Townes, the "single largest force disrupting insurance". And, as she's said, they're disrupting the market in a number of ways.
Most obviously, millennials are changing the way businesses interact with their customers.
They are the "digital natives", never without a digital device. Almost 40% say they interact more with their phones than with people. Not surprisingly, a generation that lives online, buys online, and that has profound consequences for how insurance is sold.
It is not just about the need for "omni-channel" approach and a mobile-first strategy. It is as much about the content as the channel. Content with relevant images, for instance, has been shown to get 94% more views than content without it, while two thirds of senior marketing executives say photos, video, illustrations, and infographics are core to their brand story.
Those failing to engage with millennials on their terms will lose market share to others within, or outside, the industry; a survey of over 7,000 consumers across Europe earlier this year found a fifth would be willing to buy insurance from companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple.
Millennials were also the most likely consumer group to ditch their current provider.
The growing importance of millennials doesn't just have consequences for marketing or branding. It has very real implications for products and pricing too.
Millennials households are different. According to Goldman Sachs, only about a quarter are married for instance (against about half of baby boomers the same age); many don't own a home. That has implications for the products they want. As Kesterson-Townes puts it, "They don't want their father's insurance!"
They also might not be able to afford it.
Debt, limited job opportunities and unaffordable housing, have hit the incomes of "generation skint". Young people were the hardest hit by the credit crunch, recent figures show. That means even where there's a demand for products, pricing needs to be keen.
This doesn't mean the generation doesn't present profitable opportunities. It must, based on market size. But it does again argue for a digital transformation in the industry. Technology must be able to address millennials on their own terms, but also provide businesses with the flexibility to roll out products this generation needs and with the efficiency to deliver them at a price that appeals.
For many insurance companies it's time for their digital offerings to come of age.