Finding the path to sell a commoditized product

Commodity products are particularly difficult to make appealing.

Examples are everywhere – there’s only so much you can do to differentiate a paper towel. And it’s even more difficult to turn a commoditized service or product into an appealing tool in the B2B world.
In this case study, we explore how we used a unique mix of expertise, client consultation, and digging deep with research to find a path to help insurance professionals see beyond price for a commodity Term Life product.


Our Fortune 500 Life Insurance client came to us with a conundrum:
Their Term Life product was especially hard to sell. Our client’s Term Life Insurance product carried a higher price and slightly lower commission than others.
They needed to find a way to make it appealing for Brokerage General Agency (BGA) and Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO) financial professionals. They knew this was a challenging business request, principally because the Term Life insurance marketplace is driven by price.
How do you garner interest from BGAs and IGOs in selling an undifferentiated commodity? What matters beyond price?


Our job:
Understand if and how this Term Life product, despite its higher price and lower commission structure, could have producer appeal.

So, we started with the basics – the landscape of the sales environment for BGAs and IMOs. What are the core decision making criteria for all products they carry? What are specific components of the product-selling experience that had the greatest impact on choice and promotion? We explored underwriting, ease of doing business, advanced sales support, and client confidence in the insurance brand itself.
By taking this approach, we identified the specific BGA and IMO producer profile that would be interested in presenting and promoting this product.


What we learned was an ah-ha for the client:
Term Life Insurance is not completely price dependent if it’s being presented and sold as part of a long-term client relationship.   

When a long-term relationship is at stake, the product is part of a value-added portfolio. In this case, it’s not just a stand-alone product. It’s an important component of a long-term financial plan and strategy. Then we tied it to our client’s specific Term Life product and found the features of this premium product did, indeed, provide for long-term financial planning to take place.
The re-positioning of Term Life insurance from “commodity” to “value-added financial vehicle” allowed respondents to accept the possibility of a higher price.


But that was not all.
We identified the target segment.

The BGA and IMO producers who will be most likely to embrace this premium Term Life insurance product are those who have a long-term life and financial planning relationship with their clients. These are producers who provide investment strategies. They don’t sell products.  They aren’t in it for a sale.
This target segment is in it to build a mutually successful long-term relationship with their clients.


This research helped our clients see how their product did have a place in the market, despite its start as a “no” for BGAs and IMOs.

We counseled them to adjust the thinking and strategy behind this product to focus on presenting it as part of a more holistic financial relationship. Our client undertook follow-up research with the target segment to gain a deeper understanding of how to position this Term Life insurance product. We were asked to lead this follow-up study.
We helped them find the path to success.

Thinkpiece Certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

Thinkpiece, a business specializing in B2B qualitative market research, is proud to announce national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Development Center – Midwest, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). WBENC Certification is the gold standard for women-owned business certification in the United States.

“I look around our industry, and while many amazing market researchers are women, I see few in the C-suite of MR companies. We need representation, affiliation, and solidarity. It’s my hope that our certification and success will inspire a wave of women researchers to start their own company if they have it in their hearts.

I’m excited for the future of Thinkpiece and know that this certification will open doors and connections to help us achieve our audacious goals.” – Bonnie Dibling, Founder and CEO

The WBENC standard of certification implemented by the Women’s Business Development Center – Midwest is a meticulous process, including an in-depth review of the business and a site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women, and that the business has appropriate structure and strategic business planning and implementation in place.

By including women-owned businesses among their suppliers, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier diversity programs, which in turn empowers women as leaders and brings about a more diverse, balanced, and sustainable economy.

WBENC Certification combined with professional development and engagement in the WBENC network provides unsurpassed opportunities year-round, both virtually and in-person, for women-owned businesses to grow and expand their business and innovation through events, programming and connections with major corporations and other WBEs.

To learn more about Thinkpiece, please visit


About Thinkpiece:

In the editorial world, a think piece refers to an in-depth analytical article with a forceful point of view – written to inspire and provoke thought and discussion that delves beneath the surface.

Thinkpiece builds on this concept and applies it with a focused lens to the world of B2B qualitative market research. More than simply serving up raw research for our clients to decipher, we reveal the deeper meaning hidden beneath the surface.

With moderators who came from the industries we serve, we bring an ‘insider” point of view that doesn’t shy away from complexity. And with analysts who are experts in human behavior and relationships, we add context that illuminates connection. We dive relentlessly into the research, exploring and interpreting it from every angle and multiple perspectives: as industry peers, research experts, and insatiable learners.

We take apart the research, examining each piece on its own without bias, then we put the pieces back together to reveal the whole picture that tells a cohesive story. Ultimately, we challenge our clients to think deeply and differently about their products, services, and audiences. We provoke new ideas and innovations. And we provide the insight to power better business decisions that better the world.


About WBENC:

Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation’s leader in women’s business development and the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, with more than 18,000 certified Women’s Business Enterprises, 14 national Regional Partner Organizations, and more than 500 Corporate Members, most of which are Fortune 500. Thousands of corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, as well as many states, cities, and other entities, look for and accept WBENC Certification. Through the Women Owned initiative, WBENC also is a leader in supporting consumer-oriented female entrepreneurs and those who do business with them by raising awareness for why, where and how to buy Women Owned. For more information, visit and