Brand personality and market penetration among insurance companies in Kenya
The study sought to establish the brand personality of each of the various insurance companies in Kenya as well as establish the relationship between brand personality and market penetration among these insurance companies. To achieve these objectives, a survey research design was used and primary data was collected between 16th September 2013 and 10th October 2013. A semi-structured questionnaire were administered mainly by ‘drop and pick later’ method. The respondents were mainly marketing managers, at times other senior officers in marketing, corporate communications and underwriting. Out of the 46 six firms targeted for the study three could not be reached due to varying reasons. One did not have contacts or physical address given while another was in the vicinity of the terror attack, an area barred for almost two weeks. The third firm changed their office location and nobody in their former premises could direct where they moved to. Out of the 43 firms contacted 32 responded, representing 74% response rate, which adequately represents the population and enables the research to conclude on the objectives. The insurance industry has a long history of existence in Kenya but with a penetration of only 3.16% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2012. This low penetration after over eighty years of existence may be attributed to factors like fragmentation of insurance companies, general poverty, fraud, high inflation, weak government policy and regulations, and poor image of the industry. Industry fragmentation (several insurers but none is large enough, except in a local context) limits the growth due to inadequate income and resources to finance research, innovation and publicity by the numerous small and medium-sized players. In view of the low levels of product innovation, differentiation remains low over the years leading to increased but shallow competition and price wars, a phenomenon greatly impacting on industry growth and profitability. One front of differentiation is through unique brand personality, to increase brand engagement, create strong bonds with customers and resonance. This would undoubtedly provide an insurer with a competitive edge/advantage that others cannot duplicate. Brand personality as a means to consequential differentiation triggers favourable brand response and customer loyalty, thus enabling further market growth and penetration. For faster market growth the industry players should team up and handle the challenges jointly, technically with the guidance of the regulator and the trade association(s).