Because ethnic attitudes and preferences can have a significant influence on the sale of financial products, producers and insurers may be missing out on millions of dollars in premiums by ignoring the ethnic characteristics of customers.
Marketers experienced in selling to a variety of ethnic groups say there are a number of principles that hold true regardless of specific ethnicity, and they make these recommendations.
Pay attention to what’s important to a given community. For instance, Asian professionals and business owners place a high value on family and education. At the same time, they are often keen to avoid risk. Financial products that address all these objectives can be highly appealing, notes Sindy Kong, a divisional vice president with the Dallas office of AXA Financial Inc., New York.
“We design programs for the Asian community that pay attention to all those elements,” she says.
Build relationships within your target group. “Cold calling does not work with most ethnic groups,” observes Kong.
Aggressive mingling at business meetings and other group functions is highly recommended. “Relationships are very important in Asian and other communities,” Kong says. “To build relationships, you have to be in front of people.”
Pay particular attention to identifying and meeting the most prominent individuals in a community, adds Nita Song, president of the ad agency IW Group Inc., Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Often, influentials are ideal in breaking in,” Song observes. “You are as credible as the person introducing you.”
Jim Loretta, principal of Loretta Marketing Group, a Hispanic marketing consulting firm in Miami, attends different Latino Chambers of Commerce meetings and other gatherings of small businesses, ethnic MBA societies, and so on. That enables him to hit the centers of influence of different Latino communities around town.
Being an active member of such groups, rather than simply attending meetings, can pay off big in ethnic marketing, Loretta says.
“Contribute time, effort and even money to the group,” he suggests. “Go to their luncheons and then network, so your face is seen by many people.
“Introductions to family and friends of people you meet is another way to go,” Loretta says. “Ethnic minorities often have extended families, including godparents and uncles several generations removed.”