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Marketing insurance and financial services to the Chinese market is really rooted in common sense.

Marketing is all about knowing your customers–whats important to them and how your company can help. The ability to target the Chinese community stems from understanding who they are, whats important to them and how you can tailor your services.

Asian-Americans are the third-largest minority group in the United States. Between 1990 and 2000, the Asian-American population grew by 72%, while the total U.S. population grew by 13%.

Asian-Americans also have higher incomes than other demographics. Twenty-two percent of Asian-American households earn $100,000 or more annually.

Unlike some other minority segments, however, the Asian-American community as a whole does not share the same experiences or language, so trying to create a message for the entire Asian community wont resonate.

Besides a customers background–Chinese, Korean or Filipino, for example–its also important to consider the age or generation of the client.

In the Asian-American community, there are first generation and 1.5.

Whether a first generation Chinese-American has been in the country for a long or short period of time, they still prefer to be communicated to in their own language.

I have been living in the United States for a long time, but I still use the Chinese Yellow Pages and read the Chinese newspaper. I prefer to be targeted in Chinese.

The 1.5 generation is somewhat more acculturated. They prefer to get their information in English, which is one of the reasons many Asian affinity portals are actually in English.

Other considerations that need to be made are for language differences. Although all of China has the same written language, there are many Chinese dialects. So, it is very important to use the right tone depending on what your customers demographics are.

While it is the same written language, you need to use different terminology to have a better tie with your customer.

Many companies believe that if they put an Asian family on a brochure they have done their job in targeting the market. But, that doesnt necessarily mean its going to resonate with your customer. You need to make sure the color scheme is appropriate and that the copy also targets the Chinese customers needs.

For example, Chinese people are very family-focused, and they have bigger savings than the rest of the population. Their needs for long term care insurance are different from that of Caucasians.

You wouldnt want to say, “you need LTC insurance to be sure you have enough resources if you find yourself needing long term care.” That would not be true of most Asian-American customers because they have been saving.

A better way to position the product is by asking, “Do you want to take care of yourself when you are older and have something to leave behind for your family?”

Its all about using different messaging strategies and showcasing the features that your customer will care about.

With products like IRAs, emphasizing the savings message is a smart idea because Asian-Americans are savers by nature.

Even smarter is showing that the IRA is tax-deferred and will, therefore, allow savings on taxes.

When focusing on financial services with first generation Chinese, it is very important to educate customers because they may not be familiar with aspects of the U.S. economic system, such as taxation.

Like any type of marketing for financial services, you have to make sure you know your customers. What do they need and want? How can your products and services help them recover from the unexpected and realize their dreams?

The same is true about the Asian-American community; get to know them as customers.

is a marketing specialist with State Farms Agency Resources department in California. She can be reached via e-mail at Mimi.Lam.H8B8@statefarm.com


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 21, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.