In 1936, statistics showed that federal government employees had lower insurance claims than the general public. A man from Texas named Leo Goodwin saw that insuring this lower risk segment could save him money. So he started the Government Employees Insurance Company. 75 years later, the company he founded remains all about saving money: you may have heard that a mere 15 minutes with them could save even you 15%! That’s right, GEICO.
Segmentation is the marketer’s Holy Grail–find the group that needs what you’re selling and presto. Statistical analysis is ubiquitous now, identifying advantageous segments in every consumer sector. And Geico today is far better known for the cavemen and gecko in its ads than for targeting government employees. (Indeed as segmenting became more sophisticated Geico moved beyond its original mandate and now offers insurance to the general public in all 50 states.) Curiously then, in a time when the public reputation of government employees (and government in general) has seemed to reach a historical nadir, a Geico ad explicitly reintroduces the company by its full name—”The Government Employees Insurance Company.” (The gecko himself says it.) Marketers, especially Geico’s, are too smart to do anything by accident. So there are two possibilities. One is that government employees aren’t as frowned upon as seems apparent, and that Geico execs have seen evidence to back this up. The other is that a well-researched segment of angry Americans looking for car insurance believe that government employees always get preferential treatment, while the rest of us get a raw deal. And the company figures that if it can be perceived as offering just what those entitled government employees get, that segment will know it’s a steal and sign on.