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  • Latinas Are the New U.S. Economic Driving Force

    Posted by on September 24, 2013

    Latinas aren’t just looking for any financial services. Dignified financial services are what we want — the type that credit unions are known for. Latinas are decision-makers, they are wage-earners and they are increasingly bi-cultural; all of which are nuances to make note of and integrate in a credit union’s overall Hispanic growth plan.

    One of the most notable nuances that credit unions looking to court this powerful consumer segment need to know is that Latinas aren’t assimilating.

    Perhaps one of the most revealing findings of Nielsen’s Latina Power Shift Report is that Latinas aren’t assimilating in the same way that past generations of U.S. immigrants did. What’s occurring is that we aren’t losing our Latino culture overtime to become more American, we’re actually adding the American culture to our Latino culture and are increasingly becoming ambicultural®, a term coined by Nielsen specifically to describe this phenomenon.

    What does this mean? It means we can switch back from the English language to the Spanish language without hesitation, we celebrate traditional American holidays and serve traditional Latin American foods at these events and we embrace our Latin American roots with our diverse group of both American and Latin American friends and family.

    While this can pose some unique challenges and opportunities for credit unions to communicate to us, it’s not an impossible feet, in fact it just means credit unions must have a marketing and product strategy that
    includes the right mix of communication. Blanket messaging in just English or just Spanish isn’t necessarily going to be as effective with this group. Multi-media channels, both English and Spanish communications and an appeal to both the American and Latino cultures are going to be essential to get us to act.

    These nuances will require a new way of looking at marketing and product strategies to effectively reach Latinas. And, if you really want to serve your Latino community, you need to be connecting with Latinas — the new U.S. economic driving force.

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    Latinas: A Powerful Consumer Segment for Credit Unions

    Posted by on September 17, 2013

    When targeting Latinos to increase opportunities for credit union growth and revenue, there are so many important segments to consider, including underserved and unbanked, immigrants, youth and young adults and small businesses. A particular segment that transcends all of these groups is Latinas.

    As a Latina myself, I like to think that Latinas have always been the most important U.S. consumer segment and now Nielsen’s Latina Power Shift Report confirms my biased thinking. The report reveals that Latinas are the key drivers of Hispanic economic power in the U.S. on all fronts; income, education and employment.

    As a powerful consumer segment for your credit union, here are a couple of facts about Latinas that you need to know…

    Latinas are the Predominant Decision Makers
    Latinas say that they are the primary or joint decision makers in every purchasing category from groceries, insurance and financial services to electronics and family care, according to a Nielsen study.

    This is partly due to the fact that Latinas are increasingly the primary wage earner and influencer in their households, which is a historical shift. And if credit unions aren’t adapting their marketing and communication strategies to address the Latina head of household, that message may not be getting through to anyone in that Latino family.

    Latinas are Bringing in the Money
    Latinas in households making $75,000 or more increased by five percentage points over the past 10 years, despite the recession and slow recovery, revealed Nielsen’s report. Part of this was because Latinas are achieving higher education levels and therefore have gained more upward mobility on the job front.

    And in fact, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Latina-owned businesses rose 46 percent from 2002 to 2007; faster than Latino and total female-owned businesses.

    So, where are Latinas spending their extra income? Nielsen’s 2011 Women of Tomorrow Report revealed the top categories of spend for disposable income includes: Paying off debt, general savings, retirement, education for self and new homes.

    With the mission of people helping people, credit unions have the financial products that Latinas are looking for.

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    Success Happens Over Time

    Posted by on September 10, 2013

    For Affinity Credit Union, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa., success with Hispanic outreach and membership growth efforts did not happen overnight. The 12,000-member credit union started its outreach through a series of community sponsorships, and over the years, has grown efforts to become a full business development initiative.

    According to Affinity CEO Sandy Robinson, Affinity recognized a need for its credit union to better serve Hispanics in the local Des Moines market several years ago. In consulting regularly with Coopera, Robinson and Affinity came to understand that to be able to relate to new Hispanic members, staff needed to immerse themselves in the culture. “This is a culture where trust building is essential,” said Robinson. “Only after Hispanic community members understand you are there to help them can you begin showing them all the great things you can do to improve their lives.”

    The credit union began by forming a mostly external task force made up of employees and local small business owners to act as an advisory council to the board and the staff. “Our first attempt at the task force fell apart,” admitted Robinson, “I believe we started it too early in our Hispanic efforts, and perhaps not having a diverse enough group, was the reason our first attempt was unsuccessful. But, we regrouped and tried again. We focused first on community sponsorships, such as the annual Latino Heritage Festival and local soccer teams, and then expanded our efforts.”

    During this time, Affinity added staff, growing from two bilingual employees to five, and split its internal task force into two groups — an employee one focused on implementation, as well as a management one focused on strategy. And, the credit union implemented Coopera’s cultural immersion training program for its employees. “To best understand the Hispanic culture, we needed to become part of it,” said Robinson. “We took employees to outings at local Hispanic grocery stores and restaurants, asking them to interact with the store employees in Spanish. We also made a point to join local organizations that help further our outreach to the Hispanic community.”

    In partnership with Coopera, other efforts have included: The translation of its marketing collateral and branch signage into Spanish, a dedicated page on its website in Spanish, advertising on the local Hispanic radio station and a dedicated Spanish-language Facebook page.

    Also with Coopera’s guidance, Affinity has made a point to offer products specifically tailored to the needs of Hispanic members, including a credit builder loan program, which has resulted in a significant amount of new business for the credit union. According to Robinson, Affinity also discovered that its Hispanic members were more likely to have loans than its non-Hispanic members. “In June alone, we wrote 10 new loans and opened six new accounts for Hispanic members,” said Robinson. “Of those six new accounts, five of them were referred to us through our radio advertisements, and one was referred to us by an employer. Referrals and other word of mouth resources are the best leads for new business within the Hispanic market.”

    Since November of 2011, Robinson notes that Affinity’s Hispanic membership has grown 32 percent, and that 55.8 percent of the credit union’s Hispanic members are under the age of 40, with the average age being 36.

    Through Affinity’s growth and successes, there have been many lessons learned. According to Robinson, any credit union that may be considering a relationship with the Hispanic community should plan carefully and implement thoughtfully. “It is important to get buy-in from all levels of the credit union team — from the board and management teams to your employees,” said Robinson. “Also, lay out a detailed plan of how you will move forward with your Hispanic initiatives. Don’t be afraid to try new things in order to succeed, and if an effort doesn’t get the results you’re hoping for, try something else.

    “Success in doing business with the Hispanic community takes time,” concluded Robinson. “Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results. It happens slowly and with a lot of effort on both the part of the credit union, as well as the new members you are targeting. Be patient, be genuine, and you will achieve results.”

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