Volume 15, Issue 6- November/December 2013

Where is the AGRR Industry Headed
A Noted Futurist Looks Forward
By Jenna Reed

Garry Golden doesn’t know which path it will be, but the future of the auto glass/insurance interface can take two paths: either the insurance business will be more automated and less personalized or it will become more personal, with a demand for local agents increasing. Golden, senior futurist with futurethink LLC, gave a special presentation at Auto Glass Week™ in Tampa, Fla., and spent some time discussing what the road ahead could bring for the AGRR industry with AGRR™ magazine editors. As a futurist, he studies social change to apply foresight.

“You’re (the AGRR industry) just one fish … one market and one partner for the insurance industry,” he sai

Connectivity in Focus

With technology and connectivity becoming even more prevalent, especially in vehicles, the insurance industry is now offering payment plans which are determined by how a consumer drives. By including a device in the car that tracks driving patterns, a consumer can pay more—or less—in insurance premiums.

This type of connectivity could take on an even larger role ahead, Golden opined. If a vehicle is hit by a rock that chips the windshield, small sensors added to the glass could alert the insurance company of the damage. The insurance agency could, in turn, tell the customer he needs to get a repair before the damage spreads, Golden hypothesized.

“People are shifting from driver to captain. I flew a plane here [to Tampa]. Who was in charge? We all think the captain, but who was really in charge?

“The pay-as-you drive model is coming,” Golden said. “If it shifts to a more behavior-based business … the insurance industry could have more perspective in determining when work is needed. Oh, we’ve detected a chip in your windshield and you need to go get that fixed.”

So what could this mean for the industry?

“The consumer doesn’t really have a relationship with an auto glass company,” he explained. “So auto glass companies need to think more creatively about the value they are bringing to the customer. They can establish a direct vehicle-owner relationship. Perhaps someday technicians will not just install glass, but also install sensors on the windshield that would alert the auto glass company to damage [thus getting ahead of the curve on what may come].

“This would put companies more in control—alerting them that an event had occurred and they can send out an alert to a customer telling them to come on in for a repair or replacement,” he added.

By adding the sensors, the auto glass company can help establish a more direct relationship.

“The idea is to think about how you can strengthen your relationships with customers independent from the insurance industry,” Golden explained. “It’s a hedge. If your product is not creating some sort of data stream of information, you will have no opportunity to innovate your business model. You can’t innovate simply around installation.”

With many automakers, such as Nissan and Tesla, announcing that autonomous vehicles are coming soon, this could make it even more important for auto glass companies to look at installing sensors on the windshields, he noted.

“Auto glass companies tend to work in a post-event, aftermarket culture. You could become a company that doesn’t wait for something bad to happen before getting involved. You could offer non-event-related services, such as sensors,” he said.

More Personalized?

Golden also sees the insurance market shifting back to a more personal nature. If consumers demand a more personalized service, agents could play an even bigger role.

“You would need to become hyper-local in your relationships with agents and customers,” he pointed out.

An auto glass company can succeed by working more closely with local agents, he surmised. A company could also turn to location-based services.

“There is an entire field of local-based marketing bubbling up around all retail marketplaces with geography-based fences,” Golden noted.

For instance, if a consumer drives into a certain range of an auto glass company’s location, the company could send an alert to the consumer’s phone that there is a deal going on and to stop in. Or if there is a hail event, the system could alert the consumer that auto glass repair and replacement is available very close by, Golden explained.

Expanding his view to the entire economy, Golden pointed out that baby boomers are starting to age and shift their spending.

Baby Boomers

“Baby boomers really drove our economy since the early 1990s but this is shifting,” Golden said. “The next group you really want to focus on is the millennial generation, or generation Y. There are about 80 million of them. They are entering the family formation stage of life and over the next 10 to 20 years, they will be building homes, buying cars, etc. To be successful, we need to understand their different values and consumer habits. They have a comfort with and a preference toward digital technologies. So we are in a bit of demographic crisis. We don’t have a big generation ready to go out and stimulate the economy. And many of the millennial generation are still living with their parents due to the recession.”

Another big factor that plays a role in the transportation sector is gas prices, according to Golden. He notes that the availability of cheap gas and oil is over.

“There is plenty of oil in the ground, but it’s unconventional or more expensive to drill for. It’s difficult to try to imagine any forecasts for less than $80 a barrel,” Golden said.

“The world is going to change in way that you might not understand, might feel threatened by, but we need to move toward. We need to decide how to move forward as a group,” he said. Jenna Reed is the editor of AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Follow her on LinkedIn at Jenna Reed, follow her on Twitter @agrrmagazine and like AGRR magazine on Facebook to receive the latest updates.

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