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GEICO turns to iPhone app for brand-building

GEICO has launched the GloveBox application for the iPhone and iPod touch as a means to engage both potential and existing customers.

The GEICO GloveBox application lets customers pay their bill and view their insurance card. In addition, guidance is provided for users involved in an auto accident and instructional text teaches users how to change a flat tire.

?As another channel for our customers to contact us or to receive information or service their needs, the iPhone and iPod is the launch into the mobile device user community,? said Jess Reed, chief information officer and vice president of Internet business at GEICO, Washington.

?We realize there is a subset of our customers that do much of their business over this type of device and we want to be there for them with the convenience that their chosen device provides,? he said.

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Co.) is the third-largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States. GEICO is a member of Warren Buffet?s Berkshire Hathaway group of companies.

GEICO provides auto insurance coverage for 9 million policyholders and insures more than 16 million vehicles. In addition to auto insurance, GEICO offers customers insurance products for their motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, homes, apartments and mobile homes.

G?day iPhone users
In addition to bill pay, the virtual insurance card and tips, GEICO GloveBox features include a taxi and rental car finder, roadside services and GEICO contact information.

Videos within the application offer comic relief. For example, ?The Real Scoop? is a video ad that delves into the Gecko?s mysterious past.

GEICO said that it wants to assist its customers through the channel of their choosing, and with the increasing popularity of the iPhone, an iPhone application made perfect sense.

The insurance company said that it looks for capabilities that will add the biggest value to its customers, whether on the Web, over the phone or with the new application via their iPhone.

GEICO said the target demographic of the application is broad.

?We know that customers of all ages are users of the iPhone,? Mr. Reed said. ?We really want to accommodate the customer?s ability to access our services no matter the age demographic.

?The app engages this type of user community by providing the best capability in the marketplace today by providing key service capabilities like paying your bill, retrieving your proof of insurance and providing accident scene information,? he said.

?For users that are not GEICO policyholders today, they can enjoy our capabilities by viewing the many fun advertisements that are available online.?

The GEICO GloveBox application can be downloaded for free in the iTunes App Store.

GEICO plans to roll this application out to other smartphone platforms when the time is right.

?We will move with the dynamics of the marketplace and add devices represented by dominant players,? Mr. Reed said.

GEICO will use various tactics to get the word out about this iPhone application, although it did not reveal whether or not mobile advertising would be one of those tactics.

However, Mr. Reed did hint that the application could potentially be featured in a television spot at some point.

?We shared the capability with our employees and their friends and family first,? Mr. Reed said. ?Subsequent to that, the Apple iTunes store featured our app, which gave it visibility.

?You never know when the gecko or the caveman might show up with an iPhone,? he said.