Marketing To Asian-Americans: Tailor Your Approach To The Generation
There are more differences within the Asian-American community than the country individuals come from and the language they speak.
Some are recent immigrants who cling to their native language and culture. By and large, they tend to be interested in nonfluctuating products with guarantees, like life insurance and fixed annuities.
Others are American-born children of immigrants who tend to be highly educated and earn high incomes. Many have cashed their shares of initial public offerings from the dot-com boom and are now looking toward forming estate trusts and buying financial planning services, says Christine Young, a New York Life agent who works in the San Francisco office.
“Newly arrived immigrants want security but dont have much spare money, so we focus on life insurance and other protection products, like retirement products,” Young says. Theyre “very popular in the Asian-American market because of the savings concept.”
Andi Kang, a certified financial planner in Huntington Beach, Calif., agrees that many Asian-American clients are conservative. In fact, when they first meet with Kang, most of her clients have their assets either in real estate or cash.
“We talk about how to diversify their investments outside of real estate,” Kang says. “Depending on interest rates, we may go into fixed annuities. First, we talk about diversification and looking at their investments and looking at what to do with the excess cash theyve saved over time.
“Older Asians are very cautious when it comes to the stock market,” she says.
Not so with second-generation Asian-Americans, says Young. Often, theyve built up assets in this country. They usually own a house, other investments or stock. New York Life typically sells financial planning services to this segment, she says.
Having worked with this segment for more than 20 years, Young sees first-hand the differences between the generations. Her new immigrant clients owned mom-and-pop businesses. Theirs is a more typically Asian sensibility, with a focus on earning money, and saving and protecting that money. Now shes handling their children who tend to be high-net-worth clients.
The second generation has a more typically American sensibility. They dont fear the fluctuations of the stock market and are more willing from the initial meeting to do more with their assets than their parents might be, according to Young.
Long term care insurance is a useful tool for gauging the difference in perspective between the generations. It is not yet popular among new immigrants, she says.
“The Asian reaction is slower because they are conservative,” Young says. “They wait for the product to mature before they buy.”
But, individuals in the second generation do tend to be interested in long term care insurance, she says. Successful positioning of the product often includes suggesting it can help ones parents receive care at home, should it be needed.
Measuring the levels of Asian and American sensibilities can be a way of tailoring the sales presentation to this segment, but it should not influence the products the planner selects for recommendation, says Steven Kagawa, president, The Pacific Bridge Companies, Monrovia, Calif.
Kagawas clients are mainly Japanese. He concedes there are cultural differences that impact typical Japanese and American reasoning. Japanese tend to be very conservative, whereas Americans are more bullish and “hate it when the market goes south,” he says.