LAS VEGAS – Credit unions that want to tap into the lucrative Hispanic market need to do more than simply translate documents from English to Spanish. They need to ensure that their marketing efforts "resonate" and are culturally relevant. That's the advice of Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, chief executive officer of Enlace Communications, Inc., a Los Angeles-based advertising agency that specializes in the Latino marketplace. Citing a study that showed Hispanics were "underbanked," Newman-Carrasco said credit unions could win that market if they adopted a strategy that specifically addressed their needs. The Hispanic market "is not underbanked because it doesn't have the money to be in the market," she said. "It's underbanked for particular cultural and historical reasons." By understanding and then addressing those reasons, credit unions could capture a large share of that burgeoning market, she said. "There's a huge opportunity to tap into this market because nobody really owns the U.S. Hispanic market in terms of financial products and services," she said. "Basically any financial product that you see is underdeveloped." For example, only 18 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. have a retirement plan but 69 percent of them feel the need for one, she reported. Only 12 percent of Hispanics have tradable investment accounts, with 34 percent saying they feel the need to invest in such accounts, she noted. Speaking at an educational breakout session at the California/Nevada Credit Union League's annual meeting and convention here, Newman-Carrasco stressed that attracting the Hispanic market would require earning its trust, an understanding of Latino culture and the tailoring of products to that specific audience. "The basic important aspect to relationship marketing with the U.S. Hispanic market is building trust," she said. "It's not about `only Latinos can market to Latinos.' It's about people with good products and services who understand the role of culture and can market . . . "Hispanics consider trust and customer service the most important attributes when it comes to choosing a financial institution," she added. Newman-Carrasco noted that the Hispanic market was huge and its buying power was growing dramatically. "Anywhere you go in the United States today the Hispanic market is an important part of the consumer mix," she said. She said the Hispanic market was no longer largely confined to the West Coast and the Southwest, although California has the largest Latino population of any state. Rather, areas such as North Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia now rank one-two-three as the states with the highest percentage of Hispanic growth. "The picture of the U.S. is changing dramatically," Newman-Carrasco said. To reach that market, Newman-Carrasco said credit unions need to understand Latino culture, including such things as the importance of family, the aversion of debt and the history of a cash-driven economy. She also stressed the importance of gearing marketing materials-"transcreating" rather than simply translating-to reach the Hispanic market. Transcreating, she explained, involved recreating ideas. "Very fact driven material can be translated," she said. "Anytime you're dealing with ideas, you need to recreate them. You can't translate an idea. A lot of ideas are rooted in culture. They're rooted in sayings, expressions, things that come from a social context. So you can't just translate ideas very well." She said that when "transcreating" an idea, it needed to resonate with its audience. She cited a Macy's brochure for a credit card offering that spelled out the various options and steps a consumer could use to earn a premier VISA card. The ad was primarily text with a few graphic elements but no photographs. For the Hispanic market, which typically shies away from credit card ownership, the ad was reworked to discuss just the basic credit card product and was illustrated with photographs of Hispanics. Among Newman-Carrasco's suggestions for tapping into the Hispanic market were: *Tie marketing into Hispanic holidays and events. *Identify and hire specialists in the Hispanic market to work with senior management. *Learn the culture of your target market. *Evaluate the bilingualism of the staff. "A bilingual sales force/customer service staff can make the customer experience more positive, productive and profitable," she said. [email protected]

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