Bruce Tranter has a vision in which his company is the sole provider of
a new improved way for the nation to look after its collective health.
He sees the majority of health-care in the UK eventually being carried
out by the private sector and he doesn’t see much competition.
‘If you are in health-care you’re either in the National Health Service
or you’re in Bupa, there isn’t another place,’ claims Tranter.
That might surprise its rivals, such as PPP, which are currently giving
Bupa a run for its money in the private sector. Bupa has seen its share
of the private health market slip from almost 60% ten years ago to its
Bupa is fighting back. The company, which now has three million members,
sees the solution in the recently launched a pounds 50m Health Fund. It
will provide members with annual credit worth up to 8% of their
The scheme is effectively a customer-loyalty weapon designed to hit back
at other contenders in the market for health products.
Bupa has also entered the life-assurance market with a product called
FutureCare, which will go head-to-head with similar suppliers such as
PPP, Virgin Direct and Direct Line.
Tranter, 48, is confident Bupa has the firepower to see off any
potential rivals in terms of price and quality of service.
As far as he’s concerned the NHS remains its biggest and most difficult
to deal with rival.
That difficulty, says Tranter, is not party political, and he is laconic
about the effects Labour winning the next election would have on his
‘We are building an industry here, and it is an industry that rubs
shoulders with the state,’ he says with conviction.
Tranter believes the process of private health is now as much a part of
accepted social life as the NHS.
His approach to the market has been to accentuate the positive. Through
the ‘You’re amazing’ campaign, which has been running for three years,
Bupa is tackling people’s fears about their long-term health and
convincing them it need not be so bad.
This is the caring face of private health, which says to the consumer
that the private sector’s role is about caring too.
‘People are concerned about the future. We either go about it and say
‘yes, you should be concerned’, or say ‘be confident, you can do
something about it’. All of our marketing thrust is built around
understanding how people feel about their health.’
Bupa is also targeting different age groups in different ways,
emphasising fitness for younger consumers, the welfare of dependants for
parents, and peace of mind about personal health-care for older
Tranter says he has brought to Bupa a new way of looking at the health-
care sector. ‘I think it needed to understand the balance between the
perception of things and the reality of the situation and focus on
market segments instead of viewing it in a homogeneous way.’
Tranter kicked off his marketing career at Gillette, where he was
responsible for those stirring shaving ads which promised to provide a
man wih the best he could get.
His experience of fmcg marketing has made a substantial impact on the
rest of his career - he is a devotee of database marketing and product
From Gillette, he took his skills to the service sector in the form of
Avis Car Rental, holding the post of marketing and sales director,
before leaving for Bupa, as head of marketing for health services.
Now head of marketing and new product development for the Bupa Group,
Tranter has introduced the company to the disciplines of FMCG. ‘When you
move into the service industry, typically they are not very well
researched. You have complexity but not information,’ he says.
But he feels at home in the service sector and lives off the buzz he
gets from dealing with a market with so many uncertainties. Tranter
claims health-care has to be approached with sensitivity, as decisions
taken by Bupa have a significant and lasting impact on people’s lives.
‘It affects people in major ways and it is a changing market. When you
have been told for most of your life health-care should be free, then
people tend to think they shouldn’t have to pay for it.
‘We should be trying to provide this natural bridge, taking something
that was free and making it something that is paid for by individuals
1971-1988 Sales manager, brand manager, new product development,
marketing manager, general manager - Gillette
1988 - 1993 Marketing and sales director - Avis Car Rental
1993 - present Marketing director, group marketing and new product
development director - Bupa