Those who ask questions are remembered: CSS with stronger early summer campaign than Helsana

The importance of mental health in our society is growing steadily. Health insurance companies in Switzerland are also increasingly recognizing that they have an important role to play in promoting mental well-being and therefore launched targeted campaigns in the early summer of 2023 to strengthen their brand awareness in this sensitive area. But how successful have these campaigns actually been? A recent study by Link provides answers.

In particular, the two Swiss health insurance companies Helsana and CSS launched comprehensive image campaigns specifically around the topic of mental health in May 2023. While the Helsana advice for mental well-being is at the center, the campaign of the CSS under the motto "Lifetime" and is intended to provoke reflection with explicitly posed questions. For the Link market and social research institute, this was reason enough to investigate whether and how the perception of the two brands has changed as a result from the consumer's point of view. Also examined was the perception of the Vaudoisewhich also launched an image campaign in May, but not explicitly on the topic of mental health, but with a focus on the distribution of profits to customers.

The results are based on Link's continuous brand tracking, which has been monitoring 200 of the most important brands on a weekly basis since fall 2021 and measuring them from a consumer perspective representative of the population.

CSS ahead of Helsana and Vaudoise in media perception

When looking at the consolidated media perception (perception of the respective brand via advertising or media reports), it becomes clear that the campaigns, in addition to their advertising, have also been well received by the media and that the health insurance companies have thus become more widely known among consumers. CSS enjoys a slight lead here over Helsana and Vaudoise.

The question therefore arises as to whether messages with thought-provoking questions, such as those chosen by CSS, are more likely to stick than simple statements such as those used by Helsana. The so-called "generation effect" states, for example, that messages in which certain information has to be actively filled in by the viewer himself are more likely to be remembered than those that are already fully perceived. The stronger involvement of the viewers in the CSS campaign could therefore explain the stronger media perception.

Helsana leads in buzz - but negatively

While the brand trust of Helsana and CSS is similar in strength, an examination of the positive and negative buzz (positive and negative conversations, respectively) reveals that Helsana is perceived significantly more negatively than CSS as of May/June 2023. A few weeks earlier Helsana disclosed its salariesHowever, this did not result in any significant positive swings in buzz - whether it had an impact on negative buzz remains an open question.

A look at the consideration, however, shows: The campaigns of all three health insurers failed to produce any significant increase. Thus, even after their early summer campaigns, consumers do not consider Helsana, CSS and Vaudoise more strongly than before.

Challenges for the fall of 2023

After the Swiss health insurers already spent more money than usual on advertising last fallto counter the effects of the premium increase, there is likely to be a battle for customers in the fall of 2023 as well, as another such battle is expected. Parallel developments such as the increase in the reference interest rate and the associated rise in many rents are also likely to have a further impact on customers' willingness to switch. Whether the health insurers under discussion will be able to benefit from their campaigns remains to be seen.

Method profile

  • Population: Swiss resident population aged 15 to 79 years
  • Around 250 interviews per brand per calendar week and brand segment
  • Research method: online interviews
  • Quotation/weighting: interlocked by age, gender and region
  • Random samples from the Link Online Panel actively recruited at 100% through representative telephone surveys, reaching more than 97% of the relevant population; survey participants are excluded from follow-up surveys for at least three months at a time
  • Survey period: 19.12.2022 to 18.06.2023
  • Project Management Link Zurich: Stefan Reiser (Managing Director Marketing Research)

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