In 1987, KFC opened its first China-based fast-food franchise smack-dab in the heart of Tiananmen Square. Despite the unpredictability of entering a foreign market, the fried chicken maker had a bigger problem on its hands.
For years, KFC’s slogan was, “It’s finger lickin’ good.” While that worked in Peoria, the direct translation in Chinese was, “We’ll eat your fingers off.”
At LIMRA’s Retirement Conference, being held this week in Arlington, VA, a topic focused on how advisors, like KFC, find their message to consumers lost in translation.
Speakers Maria Ferrante-Schepis, managing principal at Maddock Douglas, and Scott Kallenbach, director of strategic research at LIMRA, posed a question for the audience: “Does the language commonly used by the financial services industry motivate consumers to adequately prepare for retirement or does it confuse, intimidate and drive would-be buyers into a state of paralysis?”
After reviewing research material gathered by interviewing actual consumers, Kallenbach summed up the problem. “These are our customers out there and they don’t know what the heck we’re talking about.”
As one consumer said in a video the audience was shown. “When I hear the word ‘underwriting,’ I have a mental picture of people working in hell with typewriters.”