If youre in an office or any place of business right now, look around you: The face of the American work force has changed. A generation ago, it was overwhelmingly a white male world, but now the full-time work force is 43% female and the part-time work force is 66% female, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Minority populations are also growing quickly: census figures show the African-American population expanded almost 20% during the 1990soutpacing total U.S. population growth overalland now represents about 13% of the total.
The buying power of this market segment is huge, and continues to expand. For example, median African-American income rose 14% from 1995 to 1996, creating $367 billion in buying power, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number jumped to $392 billion a year later.
And it isnt just the employee base that has a changing face. The number of African-American-owned businesses grew by 46% between 1987 and 1997, according to the U.S. Small Business Administrations 1999 “Minorities in Business” survey.
At the same time, the minority population is largely underserved by the insurance industrybut not because of lack of interest on the customers part. A 1995 report from The Commonwealth Fund said nearly a third of minority Americans lack health insurance, but have favorable impressions of life and health insurance companies.
This burgeoning African-American marketplace can offer a tremendous opportunity for health insurers that take the time and effort to understand this group and adjust their techniques accordingly. That said, marketing to African-American employers and employees involves the same basic principles as marketing to any other audience: understand the priorities and culture, offer the right mix of products at the right price, and know how to build a relationship based on trust.
The biggest obstacle is building a relationship of trust. Especially if you arent a member of the group youre marketing to, this may mean you need to plan for a longer-than-normal sales cycle.