Bupa’s departing CMO John Moore sees even bigger shifts ahead as he takes on new UK role

Three years after taking the role of building the recently launched Bupa brand in the Australian market, chief marketing officer John Moore believes he has shifted the way consumers perceive insurance from merely paying for health care costs to being a partner in healthy life.


John Moore’s final task at Bupa in Australia will be completing the creative and media agency review.

Moore is moving to the UK where he will be charged with overseeing Bupa’s digital first strategy.

The former Australia Post, telco and bank marketer, said since taking on the role he had seen a complete shift in the way Australia’s biggest health insurer spoke to customers, and there would be an even greater shift as digital and Bupa-owned health care facilities became the brand’s major touch points.

“Three-and-a-half years ago it was a very different environment, frankly, than it is today,” Moore told Mumbrella

“So the first few months was really creating an operating model within the team that actually delivered against a broader health and care positioning. And then it was quite a lot of intensive customer understanding – observation, research, qual – a whole lot to understand what drove and what mattered to our customers.”

He said the shift had been driven by the experiences customers were getting from disruptors such as Netflix and Spotify.

“If I go back to my time before Bupa and engaging with Telcos and that, we used to have to be just the best in our space,” he said.

“But that is no longer where the consumer is. We now need to be as good as the best in any space that they are interacting with. It’s a great challenge.

He said the company was working to fix areas where it had fallen short of customer expectations, with a transformation program operating across Bupa to fix the basic issues.

“But that alone wasn’t going to set us apart. They also really wanted us to focus and understand them at times that matter. That underpins that whole structure of Blue Room. It’s not built on a business structure.”

Bupa's Blue Room portal has become a central connection point for the insurer's customers

Bupa’s Blue Room portal has become a central connection point for the insurer’s customers

He said The Blue Room portal, which Bupa has been promoting as a primary destination for its customers, was aimed at areas such as caring, providing people with information on what to do as they age, offering parents an understanding of what lies ahead in parenthood.

It’s an approach that has been developed around the insight that family lies at the heart of how many decisions are made when people are dealing with health and insurance and creating content that supports that.

“Family is such an integral part of our relationship with our customers,” he said.

“From planning for childbirth to having a young family, who you manage that through. So only build content that actually helps people through that. People don’t want to talk about product, they really want to talk about how we can actually make a difference in their lives, and importantly, in their family’s lives.

“The big learning for me moving from other services sectors is how integral the family unit is in health.”

Moore said one of the biggest insights has been the central role played by mothers in health care.

“For us the absolute power broker in this picture is mum. Every example you talk to, it’s mum who’s deciding what dentist people go to, when they go, how often they go,” he said.

He said that much of the work was focused around how to support mothers as they took on the massive burden of guarding their family’s health.

“How do we make sure that we support her through those pieces.”

The insight led to the launch of Bupa’s Nightwatchman campaign, featuring cricketers Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Nathan Lyon promoting a support program for new parents in the first 1,000 days.

He said the approach had changed from an awareness program of the brand, which was part of the initial decision to partner with Cricket Australia, to talking about how Bupa impacted people’s lives.

“The value we get out of Cricket Australia today is all round access to its resources, access to its Facebook page and its whole network to use that to get stories out there.”

“For us it’s been this evolution of going from straight tactical marketing to storytelling about health and care with tactical marketing linked in to support it.”

He said shifting the marketing to a needs-based conversation had been easy for the brand to do.

At the same time offering services directly under Bupa branding, such as aged care facilities, dental clinics, optometry stores and wellness clinics was building a stronger connection with its customers as they experience the brand beyond simply making a claim.

Bupa's Seaforth aged care and wellness facility in Sydney is an example of the brand's expansion into care

Bupa’s aged care and wellness facility at Seaforth, Sydney is an example of the brand’s expansion into care

“Insurance is a hard thing to love. But when you see insurance plus provision it changes the way in which you can communicate and sell. That is the one thing (when) I look at our competitors I sort of feel a bit sorry for them because they don’t have access to the breadth that we do.

“Insurance is in our heart, but we do know that we need to be more than an insurer to be able to take full advantage of that differentiation piece.”

Moving forward he saw the two big opportunities for Bupa lay in helping guide people through the health system and supporting them in dealing with it and finding ways to support an ageing population.

He said that while digital would play a key role in the journey of the brand going forward, the strategy would be customer-led, not digital-led.

“We are basically calling it customer-led not digital-led because digital-led often leads to building what we call ‘cool shit’, and there’s lots of it out there,” he said.

“Whereas being customer-led actually forces you to build stuff that the customer wants. It’s a nuance, but it’s one that I always call out because it is quite deliberate that we are thinking that way.

“For us what I would hope over the next couple of years is that we really set Bupa up in all of our markets to be in a position whereby we are much better at listening to our customers, much better at understanding what our customers and people want and much better at designing experiences.”

On his final project in Australia before he leaves – the completion of Bupa’s media and creative agency review – Moore is not giving much away.

The brand is focused on bringing in a single supplier across its disciplines, with Big Red and OMD on the outer.

“We’re currently reviewing our media and creative agencies as part of our regular review process, and have narrowed it down to a shortlist,” he said.

“We’ve made the decision to take into account the ever-increasing linkage between media and creative strategy as we continue our focus on customer engagement. A big part of this is our content creation and how this fits in with our marketing mix. The combined media/creative solution offers the best solution for Bupa’s marketing needs and reflects the convergence of media and creative in our ever increasing digital and content focus.”


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