Did Meerkats Cost Jason Geary His Job?

By: Ali Eghbaljoo

ID: 213189082

The other day I was watching TV and I noticed that the iSelect funny man is changed by a few other characters in a new campaign that is called “Always get it right”. Then I noticed Jason Geary is not on radio, as well! I really liked his sense of humor! What happened to him? Then I started doing some research! Guess what? His last piece of work was for April fools’ day campaign and he is out!

Comparator websites originated in the UK in the early 2000s and as it was a new product in a new market; heavy investment in marketing and developing was required to guarantee their successful introduction as a new product to the market (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission 2014, P7). As Guiltinan (cited in Chen et al. 2014 P207) argued that heavier the investment in marketing a new product the better the likelihood of this product accepted by target customers. A few years later, in 2006 comparethemarket.com (CTM) was launched as a car and van insurance comparison.

Like many other firms, CTM took the first step towards growth a few years later, and their approach was introducing new products in an existing market; Product Development (Ansoff’s growth matrix), such as home and bike insurance and money products. To make it a success, in January 2009, CTM launched a new marketing campaign “with the goal to double its market share” (Brunning R, para. 7), that changed the face of the company.

 

meerkat

Aleksandr Orlov & Sergei (CTM Meerkats) face of the CTM marketing Campaign

Generally, the target customers of comparator websites are price-sensitive adults who are looking for a better deal. CTM meerkat campaign was very original and related and perhaps it is one of the most successful long-running campaigns in the world that this year is celebrating their 8th birthday! Moreover, Oxford added the catchphrase “simples” that is used by Aleksandr Orlov; the main character of CTM story, to their dictionary. They also “improved the website rank from 16th in 2008 to the 4th most visited insurance website in 2014” (Brunning 2014 para. 9).

As the second step toward growth, in September 2012 comparethemarket.com.au was launched in down under; CTM took a current product to a new market to basically steal customers from existing players. CTM adopted concentrating approach by devoting relatively high levels of marketing effort to this new market in an attempt to win a significant share in these markets. “iSelect” as one of the first comparator websites that was launched in Australia in 2000, successfully had Jason Geary as “Mr. iSelect” for their marketing campaign since 2011 and to beat this popular humorous character, CTM needed to bring their A game on.

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Looking at three major Australian comparator websites (iSelect, CTM and Choosi) traffic, suggests that since the CTM introduction in Australia, iSelect supremacy has been faded-out. It shows that before 2012 the market was dominated by iSelect by large. However, in the last 12 months, their market share has diminished significantly and CTM is ahead of them now, but what the reason for CTM success is? Do they have more quality products or better varieties of products that make people more interested to look at their website? Or simply they had a better marketing campaign?

 

When comparing the number of people who visited these websites, it can’t be just because of quality products or word of mouth. People have visited their websites as they have been directed to them by marketers. Therefore, we can assume that a better marketing campaign has a main role to play. Furthermore, Aleksandr Orlov (which has been referred as the founder of comparethemeerkat.com.au) Facebook page has more than 100,000 fans compare to 85,000 fans of iSelect page, even though iSelect has been around for much longer.

How easy was taking over the existing Australian firms customers for CTM? Obviously they didn’t have to create the market as it was well established, but the competition was fierce, iSelect was well-known service provider as the pioneer in the field and other firms such as Choosi (started in 2011, almost at the same time as CTM) were also fighting for the same target customers. For me, the reason that CTM defeated Choosi is the fact that CTM had a ready to go marketing product and under belt experience that they acquired by practicing in the UK market. So, CTM didn’t have to invest in producing marketing products and spent their budget on advertisement, while Choosi didn’t have this advantage and had to start from scratch. Perhaps, one of the reasons of iSelect lost to CTM was the attraction of new campaign to an old one for the market, as well.

This market is going to get bigger and more attractive, as new products can be added to the basket and the price of especially health insurance is rising every year as it has been in the past. I believe we are going to see more interesting competition in this field and new marketing ideas and strategies that make it even more interesting for marketers!

Reference:

Aleksandr Orlov – Founder of comparethemeerkat.com.au, Facebook page 2016, retrieved 27 July 2016,  https://www.facebook.com/Comparethemeerkat.com.au/?fref=nf

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission 2014, The comparator website industry in Australia An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report 2014, retrieved 27 July 2016https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/926_Comparator%20website%20industry%20in%20Australia%20report_FA.pdf

Brunning, R 2014 , ‘Marketing matters blog  – Analysing “Compare the Meerkat”‘, web log post, 27 March, retrieved 27 July 2016, http://mktg-atters.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/analysing-compare-meerkat.html

Campaign brief 2016, iSelect celebrates the power of ‘getting it right’ in new brand campaign via Leo Burnett Melbourne, retrieved 27 July 2016, http://www.campaignbrief.com/2016/04/iselect-celebrates-the-power-o.html

Chen, C, Chiang, M, & Yang, C 2014, ‘New product preannouncements, advertising investments, and stock returns’, Marketing Letters, 25, 2, pp. 207-218

Compare the market 2016, our history, retrieved 27 July 2016, https://www.comparethemarket.com/meerkat/history/

Compare the market 2016, who are we, retrieved 27 July 2016, https://www.comparethemarket.com/about-us/

iSelect, Facebook page 2016, retrieved 27 July 2016,  https://www.facebook.com/iselect/

Oxford dictionaries 2016, Simples, retrieved 27 July 2016, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/simples

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