By now, we all have heard the call to diversify – not only in the workplace, but in our markets as well. As research has confirmed, an inclusive and insightful approach to multicultural markets is not only good humanity, it’s also good business.
By targeting the South Asian market in the New York City metropolitan area, I have put my insurance and financial planning business on a successful trajectory. The future is bright as the South Asian population grows in size and wealth.
My experience has shown that smaller ethnic groups such as the South Asian market can offer important and untapped opportunities. The South Asian community is concentrated in a few areas, making them relatively easy to target. And the group is affluent and entrepreneurial.
The Census Bureau reports that the 10-million American Asian community made up slightly more than 4% of the nation’s population in 2000. And in a 2005 update, the bureau calculated that 2.5 million Asian Indians lived in the U.S. There are large South Asian communities in California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.
The South Asian community boasts a high median family income – $71,000 for Asian Indians and $50,200 for Pakistanis. South Asians are well educated – between 50% and 60% hold a bachelors degree or graduate degree. Sixty percent of the nation’s Asian-Indians and 44% of the Pakistani working population held managerial, professional or technical jobs, according to 2000 U.S. Census statistics.
Personally, I’ve found that many members of the New York South Asian community have lofty aspirations. They want the best for their families – the best homes, education, and jobs. Parents look for their children to become doctors, entrepreneurs, and engineers.
Financial representatives who gain the trust of South Asian families will find that their clients are often very loyal and value financial advice that can help them to protect their families, build wealth, and secure their future.
To gain trust within the South Asian community, it helps if a producer understands the importance of family and knows the nuances of the culture. It also is critical to have a commitment to providing exceptional client service and building long-term relationships.
Something as simple as knowing that Desi is not a name, but what we proudly call ourselves, or that cricket is the sport of choice, can go a long way when working with the South Asian community. Tapping into the local Desi television shows and media outlets serving the South Asian community also can give a producer serving this market an advantage.
My firm has had great success advertising in local newspapers and airing commercials on television stations with large South Asian audiences. We stay in close contact with local Indian and Pakistani physicians’ organizations and sponsor their annual dinners. Our firm has sponsored local cultural and sporting events and even backs an amateur cricket team in the area.
The results have been positive. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America recognized my agency as the New Agency of the Year in 2005. Although we have producers that serve both the general and South Asian markers, we estimate that 65% of our clients are local physicians and that most of our firm’s business is generated within the South Asian community. Yet despite our hard work, much of the South Asian market in the New York tri-state area remains untapped.
Along the way, my firm has learned some very important lessons that can help producers in their effort to recognize and profit from our nation’s diversity. Here are steps we all can take to better serve a more diverse American marketplace: