“[We want] to provide a profitable service for people that would allow them to just drive and not constantly be checking over their shoulder for a cop, or slamming on their brakes every time they see a car on the shoulder of the road, or a traffic light that looks like it might turn red soon”.
The remarks above come from Kyle Tower, one of the leading team from Ticketfree, the controversial Canadian company who have taken a remarkable new approach to car insurance. In effect, they offer protection against driving misdeeds not ordinarily covered by typical car insurance policies. This includes the likes of ‘speeding violations’ and ‘illegal u-turns’, all for an annual fee of $169.
What, as marketers, can we take out of the way this company is positioned and branded? Firstly, and most critically, it typifies the global consumer trend of an increasingly preventative approach to spending in the wake of the recession. While an extreme case, it is not surprising that a start-up such as this has seen and acted upon a perceived consumer need in the insurance industry, preying on the fact that consumers today are prioritising controlled spending and longer-term investment. This ‘one-bitten, twice-shy’ mentality has generated appeal for a core benefit which other new brands might want to communicate to consumers: spend now and be sure of long-term stability.
Another interesting aspect of Ticketfree is the carefree, verging on positive attitude they have taken towards potentially serious motoring crimes. This goes as far as customers being able to purchase gift packages for friends and family, which is surely an endorsement of irresponsibility.
As economist Ian Ayres has highlighted in his recent blog for the New York Times, the company have exposed themselves to several moral hazards. While Kyle Tower responded fairly emphaticallyto the challenge from Ayres, it does, once again, raise the perennial marketing problem of launching a potentially great business idea with blinkered vision. Not only are there legal and moral issues to contend with, but will consumers really invest in the Ticketfree offer?