Marketing Week (MW): How does Claims Direct’s brand awareness compare with potential high street competitors?
Andy Hoe (AH): Our unprompted brand awareness is at a level of about 8%, but that level is significantly higher for the Co-op, Virgin or Tesco. Whether or not people would immediately associate those brands with legal services is going to depend on the promotion they do.
Something in the region of £65m to £70m a year is spent on promoting personal injury services across TV, online and directory media. It is already a very busy space, so the question is whether a recognisable brand can cut through that. The challenge within personal injury is because people come to lawyers to solve issues for them, they need the confidence that the person or brand they choose is going to be able to deliver the service that they are looking for.
MW: What are the marketing challenges now for brands solely offering legal services?
AH: About 15.5 million people have used the services of a lawyer in the past seven years, but only 7 million have used the services of a lawyer twice in the past 10 years. We are not required by everybody every day of the week. We do not even have an annual renewal date, as the insurance industry does, which enables us to remind people that we exist.
The advantage that household brands will have over the legal profession is that they are recognised, whereas most lawyers are not. From Russell Jones & Walker’s perspective, that is where Claims Direct comes into play. We make no secret of the fact that we would like to become the biggest consumer law brand in the UK over the next three to five years. Part of that will be as Claims Direct and part of that will be as Russell Jones & Walker.
MW: How do you think consumer brands will seek to operate their legal services offerings, and how will you compete?
AH: The Co-op already has a burgeoning legal practice. There will be others that will consider the practice of white labelling. It is often the simplest, most straightforward way of getting into a new sector without the financial commitment.
The professional services sector is not as sophisticated as the retail sector and the legal profession needs to learn what retailers do best – customer satisfaction and customer service. The legal profession is not particularly good at making itself accessible enough to the general public and that is the aim of the Legal Services Act. That is what law firms like ours have got to get right.