GKV Challenger Brand Minute: Time To Zag

How to compete with the big names and big dollars of the national health plans.

Consider this:

As of August 2022, seven health care organizations including the BlueCross and BlueShield (BCBS) affiliates held an 84% sharehold of individual Medicare Advantage market share, including HMO, PPO and HMO-SNP products

Most of these organizations have deep pockets and aren’t shy about spending money on marketing and advertising. Most also have high brand awareness and provide group or individual insurance to those aging into Medicare.

Win the next AEP

How can local and regional health plans compete with these behemoths?

You certainly can’t outspend them. UnitedHealthcare AARP Medicare Plans spent just under $100 million on advertising in digital, print, and national TV in the last year according to MEDIARadar.

And you can’t make the rational reasons for selecting a plan, e.g. biggest network, best benefits, etc., the centerpiece of your advertising. That territory is already taken by the giant plans. Thus, if your communications simply attempt to mirror them, you’re just more noise. You’ve already lost.

No, it’s time to zag.

Don’t play by big dog rules. You are a Challenger Brand. And your strategic imperative should be to encourage your prospects to evaluate you, not as a smaller version of the category leaders, but as a true alternative.

Make an emotional case for why you’re a better choice. Speak to the advantages of being a smaller, local plan. Like customer service provided by local people. Value and beliefs your company shares with your communities. A knowledge of and a history with local markets that the national players could never have.


Here’s an example of how a smaller plan in New York went to market recently with a proud, authentic, locally focused advertising campaign.

Ready to Zag?

GKV has been helping health plans win AEP for over 30 years.

Andrew Robinson

SVP, Account Director

Start the conversation today and find out what GKV can do for your brand.

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