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Sep 28, 2022

Europe’s IR innovators: Baloise shows innovation through design

Judges lapped up the creativity on show at the IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2022. In the first of a three-part series, Tim Human asks award winners what made their IR innovations stand out

The story of Baloise Group winning best innovation in shareholder communications begins with, well, a push for innovation at the 150-year-old Swiss insurance company. At its investor day in October 2020, the firm outlined plans for diversification through unlocking new sources of client acquisition, revenue growth and cash generation. Not everyone was convinced, however.

Investors and analysts questioned whether Baloise should be investing money in innovation, Markus Holtz, the insurer’s head of IR, tells IR Magazine. Some employees also viewed the changes skeptically. ‘They asked, Why do I need to change? The business is working well,’ Holtz says.

Markus Holtz, Baloise

At this point, the IR team realized it needed to explain the innovation strategy more clearly. ‘A lot of investors and sell-side analysts wanted more transparency on the topic,’ says Alexandra Engesser, investor relations manager at the insurer. ‘So we thought about how we could best explain the topic of innovation.’

With that in mind, Baloise developed an online ‘scrollytelling experience’ – essentially a long website where users gradually scroll down through a range of content, such as animation, video and interactive games. ‘We didn't think it made sense to have a PowerPoint presentation when we were trying to explain to people that we are more innovative than other firms,’ says Holtz.

Show and tell

Designed in partnership with Zense, a Zurich-based communications consultancy, the website explains why Baloise wants to innovate and then shows the various ways it is doing so.

Screenshots from Baloise's ‘scrollytelling experience’

At one point, users must connect a series of dots on the screen with their mouse to reveal new information. And interspersed throughout are videos of senior management members explaining the importance of diversifying the business.

The project saw strong interest both internally and externally – something that impressed the judges at the IR Magazine Awards. In the first few days after launch, the website received more than 1,000 visits, according to Baloise. A corresponding post about the site became one of the most-read items on the company’s intranet system. And the average retention time of the website stands at more than 15 minutes, with 50 percent of users scrolling all the way from the top to the bottom.

Alexandra Engesser, Baloise

How does Baloise plan to continue the conversation around innovation? That’s a tough one, says Holtz. The company is continuing to discuss its innovation strategy across its regular reporting. But what else it might do is an open question.

‘If we make a second iteration [of the website], we must be innovative again,’ Holtz says. ‘We want to… surprise people again.’

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of IR Magazine.