After a recent bout of travel, I am in the position of answering a series of e-Mails about every aspect of my trip, from marketers who desperately want my opinion and are willing to bombard me with Likert Scales to find out. And there is one particular question that I find somewhat difficult to answer, because it seems to be based on a rather improbable understanding of how people communicate.

That question is, of course "How likely are you to recommend to a friend or colleague?".

The most recent application of this question happened less than half an hour ago, and prompted me writing this. While travelling, I clicked on a box for travel insurance while buying my airline tickets. To be honest, I am not even sure what travel insurance entails, but I figured since I am spending at least several hundred dollars to travel, I might as well pony up the extra fee for travel insurance. But the question is based on the idea that somehow I am going to be getting in deep discussions with my friends or colleagues about the matter. Here I am, at a glamorous wine tasting party in the Napa Valley, surrounded by tech industry millenials, sipping on a glass of wine. "This wine sure is of high quality," I will proclaim, "much like my travel insurance from Allianz Global Travel Insurance", and then I will explain that "Allianz" is spelled with a "z". They will all ooh and ahh and ask me for more information. After a friendly game of tennis with another lawyer at my firm, he will sheepishly realize that he left his bag in his car. I will then segue into: "Well, if you ever leave your bag in the wrong country, Allianz Global Travel Insurance will have you covered", and then he will look quizzical and request more information, including that Allianz Global Travel Insurance is spelled with a "z".

Perhaps the problem is that marketers have spent so much time dreaming up scenarios where two everyday people get into a deep conversation about the specifics of a particular consumer brand, that they have forgotten that normal people do not communicate like that. This is especially the case with highly technical products that are purchased rarely, such as travel insurance. In my case, for this particular product, there is one airline that flies between San Francisco, California and Guadalajara, Mexico, and there was one type of travel insurance to buy. It is not something that really occupied much of my attention, and it is not something that I am going to discuss the next time me and a friend are out camping under the stars and have a heart-to-heart conversation about the meaning of life, with an interlude for me to recommend how the next time they buy tickets for an airline, they should check the little box for Allianz Global Travel Insurance, and then explain that it is spelled with a "z".

So, marketers, remember that despite your efforts at branding, most people choose products by default, and most friends and colleagues don't spend their time giving each other tips on what services to use.

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