New York Life Targets Chinese-American Market

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New York Life Insurance Co. is upgrading the 3-year-old Chinese section of its Web site to acquire and retain more business from that ethnic group in the United States.

The effort is key to New York Life's multicultural marketing outreach to communities like Hispanics, Indians, Koreans and Vietnamese. A primary attraction to New York Life is the potential of the size of the Chinese-American market -- 2.7 million, according to the 2000 census.

"It's a small population relative to what we have in the whole country, but we've got a lot of research in the Chinese media that shows the saturation of life insurance products in the market is only about 50 percent," said Sally Mak, corporate vice president at New York Life's cultural marketing division. "So that said, with the population and the saturation, we are seeing a big potential market."

Upgrades on allow for direct contact between Chinese-American policyholders and the insurer. Using an online form, consumers can submit questions and receive responses in Chinese script.

More articles have been posted on issues like long-term-care insurance, tax deferral, education funding, annuities, career agent information and permanent term life products. Recruiting material for agents and managers is featured as well.

A toll-free telephone number with Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking operators will take calls from policyholders and agents.

Overall, the subsite has graphics reflecting Chinese culture and the traditional colors of red and gold. Internet media firm SINA created the upgrade to the pages, which previously comprised limited copy and no interactivity.

A leading content and commerce site for Chinese communities worldwide, SINA will run banners and links on its site promoting New York Life's Chinese-American site.

"This product upgrade nicely taps into a lot of the Chinese values and savings practices," said Karen Finkston Payes, assistant vice president at New York Life.

Chinese Americans typically save 30 percent to 40 percent of their annual income, Mak said. This means they have more disposable income.

"One trend that we've noticed is that the Chinese community tends to buy more of the permanent life products than term life products," Mak said.

"The preference at all times that we see is for products with cash value because that has something to do with the savings rate," she said. "They would like to have a cash accumulation feature product."

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