Metropolitan Life Marketers Targeting Asian-Americans

By Shoultz, Donald | American Banker, August 12, 1986 | Go to article overview
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Metropolitan Life Marketers Targeting Asian-Americans

Shoultz, Donald, American Banker

Metropolitan Life Marketers Targeting Asian-Americans

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., which became the largest insurer of Hispanic-Americans through a methodical courtship of that market, is applying some of the same marketing techniques to win over Asian-Americans.

The New York-based insurance and financial services company began a marketing campaign aimed at Asian-Americans earlier this year. It has been marketing to Hospanics for about two years. While there are an estimated 17 million Spanish-speaking citizens in the country, there are about five million Asian-Americans.

The groups share a strong family orientation, concern for their children, and a work ethic that makes them good prospects for insurance products, said Ruben P. Lopez, Metropolitan Life's marketing director for special projects.

Metropolitan Life decided to pursue the Hispanic market after one of its international division executives, who was looking for new foreign markets, pointed out four years ago that Hispanic America constituted "a country within a country' but had been overlooked by most insurers.

The company began its marketing efforts with a series of intensive interviews with Hispanics and developed Spanish-language materials that explained its products. It tested the materials two years ago in Miami and San Antonio and took the program national early last year.

Conill Advertising Inc., a New York-based agency that specializes in marketing to Hispanics, was hired to develop ads placed on Spanish-language television stations and in Spanish-language newspapers. A toll-free number was established so Hispanics could get more information in Spanish, and the company handled more than 12,000 such calls in 1985.

Mr. Lopez said the Hispanic compaign lifted Metropolitan Life to first place from fourth among insurers of that minority group. A survey, conducted last year, found that the insurance giant ranks No. 1 in market share and consumer awareness with citizens of Hispanic origin in the nation's major cities. The overall success in marketing to the Hispanic community is what led the company to decide last year to target Asian-Americans.

The company summoned its 300 Asian-American sales representatives to New York for advice. Research showed the Asian population in the U.S. is growing about 14 times faster than the general population, and its median family income of $22,075 is 11% higher than that of the rest of the nation. In addition, Asian-Americans tend to save more than the average American.

"Factor by factor, it appeared to be a much better market than even the Hispanic market is,' Mr. Lopez said.

Metropolitan Life decided to focus first on the Chinese and Korean segments of the Asian-American population, and hired L3 Advertising Inc., a New York agency specializing in advertising to Asians.

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