New York Life Sees 18% Response Rates in India, Speaker Says

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NEW YORK -- The New York Life Insurance Co. has enjoyed campaign response rates as high as 18 percent in India, a company official said at yesterday's DMA International Council's International Day 2004.

Craig Schmeizer, corporate vice president of marketing, said Max New York Life, its subsidiary in India, also has seen referral rates for agents as high as 125 percent.

"That means 1.2 names for every piece of mail we are sending out," he said.

India is an emerging market for New York Life. The country will have a larger middle class than the entire U.S. population by 2015, Schmeizer said, and its population has increasing comfort with making direct transactions. In addition, it has extremely low direct channel competition and many Western lifestyle parallels.

"The cultural ethic is not dissimilar over there," he said. "Language issues can be easily overcome, and the target population generally speaks English."

However, there are roadblocks, including:

· Delivery reliability issues create direct mail campaign challenges. For example, Schmeizer said elephants are occasionally still used to deliver mail.

· Absence of a mature list industry mandates custom list compilation and partnerships.

· The supplier industry is generally unreliable with few standouts.

· Immature infrastructure poses significant operational challenges.

Interestingly, while there is signficant in-country telephony infrastructure development, Schmeizer said, "that is all pointed at the Western countries. We really don't find many telemarketing shops that are good at calling within India."

Thailand is another emerging market for New York Life. Siam Commercial New York Life Insurance, its subsidiary in Thailand, has enjoyed campaign response rates as high as 22 percent, Schmeizer said. As a result, the company is providing assistance to its subsidiary in internalizing the telemarketing competency.

"We view Thailand as presenting more DM potential to us, New York Life as a company, than we do in any other regional market," he said.

Asia's emerging countries -- including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand -- represent two-thirds of the world's population and 70 percent of the world's growth in GDP, yet attract less than 3 percent of investments from Fortune 500 companies, Schmeizer said.

"The dollars still haven't made the moves into these economies," he said.

As a result, direct communications maintain a novelty factor in these countries.

"It's something we had here in the United States 20 years ago," Schmeizer said. "Direct communications enjoy a positive reception. Personalized messages are valued and looked upon as something meaningful and important."

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