Prudential Rolls Out Internet Strategy To Build Its Business Outside The U.S.
By Ara C. Trembly
Prudential Financial has announced a new International Internet strategy designed to aggressively build business outside the United States and promote cross-selling among the companys product groups.
According to Irene Dec, vice president, international investments, for Newark, N.J.-based Prudential, the company has created a team “to represent our business outside the U.S.” and to set a direction that would take advantage of Prudentials brand implementation, user experiences, technology infrastructure and other factors. One of Decs many responsibilities is to develop project management and implementation processes for the companys International Investments operation.
Addressing the brand component of the companys strategy, Dec states that “Prudential needs to have a common look and feel worldwide.” Once an executive decision had been made to develop that “look,” Prudentials marketing people identified graphic standards for the companys Web pages worldwide.
“Within our international sites, we set standards,” Dec explains. “One of them is that if we have more than one business in a country, we create a country home page.” All of the country home pages, she adds, link back to the companys primary site at www.prudential.com.
Each country home page will sport design elements that are specific to that country, but each will also have the companys common look and feel, says Dec. The country sites will be in the language of that country, she adds, while the primary site will contain a listing of “all the countries where we have business as well as all the business we have globally. The Internet is a key part of [our] marketing.”
All country sites, says Dec, will utilize the companys “Growing and Protecting Your Wealth” tagline.
Dec notes that Prudentials experience with customers and potential customers dictated that standards for interaction with them are “mandatory.” In order to make its international sites more “customer-centric,” she says, Prudential has done analysis and market research within some foreign countries to understand their cultures. “The use of certain colors will have meaning in that country.
“As you implement in different countries, you must understand the culture,” she continues. “Its not appropriate to assume that it should be presented [everywhere] in the same fashion.”
Dec adds that while the European, Asian, Central American and South American regions Web sites will have common components, local compliance review regarding regulations will also be part of the sites. “This becomes a technology challenge,” she notes.
The new strategy also extends to selecting and managing vendors related to the Web sites, says Dec. Beyond choosing the most efficient vendors, Prudential also seeks to find “local vendors who have an understanding of the culture and language,” she explains. “Direct translations [of English Web sites] are not enough.”
Dec notes that all the country home pages will reside on the companys servers in Roseland, N.J. Having them there means “its easier to administer projects and it allows Prudential security standards to be implemented as well.” While Prudentials standards could potentially clash with country-specific standards, Dec says there have been no conflicts to date.
“Having standards helps us leverage time, and this can impact delivery of the project,” she observes. “Were looking to implement a process that reduces hoveringtaking extra time to research” the process prior to implementation.
Dec is also helping to develop best practices for Internet development within Prudential. Building on the experience of its extensive Y2K preparation projects, Prudential is putting together a schedule and methodology that includes specific steps, she says. The results show in the international sites.
“In Japan, for example, the sites are very lively looking and much brighter than you would see [in the U.S.], due to cultural differences. Yet the standard look and feel of Prudential is still there,” Dec states.
Dec says the Prudential country sites in Brazil, Japan and Taiwan will be completed by the end of November. Specific business unit home pages (in countries where there is only one business) are expected to be up and running in Poland, Mexico, Ireland, Korea, China and Italy by the end of October.
“Where were heading to is the cross-sell opportunity,” says Dec. Before this initiative, she notes, business units had “very separate sites” that “didnt look and feel like each other and had no links back to corporate. Now we have that.”
Dec adds that in the U.S., the same direction has been set for Prudentials Web sites and implemented. “By the end of this year, well have a common look and feel for all of our sites,” she states. “It strengthens the brand and tells the customer in a local country that we are a much bigger company than [is shown in] the country site.”
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 15, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.