3 Ways Prudential Boosted Multicultural Market Share

March 5, 2015 8:02 pm

By Barbara Frankel

Prudential Multicultural Marketing

Photo by Shutterstock

Prudential Financial increased its share of multicultural markets by 15–20 percent in five years. How did they do it?

  1. 1. a focus on the individual characteristics of each market;
  2. 2. increased recruitment of women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians;
  3. 3. and use of employee resource groups.


Prudential Financial (No. 8 in the DiversityInc Top 50) recognized several years ago that the changing U.S. population offered a tremendous market opportunity. The company started its efforts with women and Blacks, producing white papers on their financial behavior. Educating the workforce about the specific needs of these communities has been key.

“If you want the wind at your back, go to the segment that’s growing,” explained Mark Hug, Executive Vice President, Product and Marketing, Individual Life Insurance.

1. Individual Markets

A. The company’s eighth biennial study on “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women” showcased significant trends and the continued lack of confidence women have in their ability to achieve their financial goals. The survey polled 1,407 American women and 606 American men between the ages of 25 and 68 from April 2–14, 2014.

Specific findings:

• 44 percent of women are the primary breadwinners in their households.

• 27 percent of married women say they “take control” of financial and retirement planning versus 14 percent in 2006.

• 33 percent say they are on track to prepare for retirement, down from 46 percent in 2006.

• Women cite indecipherable industry jargon, lack of disposable income, and lack of time as key impediments to financial planning.

• Black women were most likely to see debt reduction as a key challenge while Asian women are most likely to be on track for saving for retirement.

Women by Race/Ethnicity

Black Latina Asian White
Bigger role in financial planning vs. 5 yrs ago 27% 24% 27% 16%

Women by Generations

Millennials Gen X Boomers
Understand financial products 23% 29% 41%
Want to start own business 24% 16% 4%
Confident about financial future 60% 50% 65%

B. The company’s “The African American Financial Experience” study highlighted continued concern over debt and multiple financial priorities. The survey polled 1,153 Black Americans and 471 “general population” Americans, all ages 25–70, interviewed from March 7–19, 2013.

Specific findings:

• Half the Blacks surveyed felt better off financially than they did a year earlier, while only 19 percent felt worse. Almost 65 percent felt better off than their parents.

• Top priorities are paying down near-term debt, building an emergency fund and paying for children’s needs.

• While nearly half have workplace retirement plans such as a 401(k) and 80 percent are eligible, most contribute less than the employer match.

Blacks’ Financial Priorities

Black General Population
Paying down debt 60% 50%
Saving for retirement 55% 62%
Building emergency savings 54% 41%
Having life insurance 38% 21%

Blacks on Money & Debt

Black General Population
Credit card debt 60% 45%
Mortgage 46% 49%
Car loan 41% 35%
Student loan 25% 13%
Medical debt 21% 15%

2. Educating Recruiters In the past five years, Prudential has made a significant effort to educate its recruiters and hiring managers on the benefits of diversity recruitment and the most effective ways to hire and retain diverse staff.

“We are proud of the consistent progress we’ve made over the years as we continue our focus on increasing representation to reflect the communities we serve,” the company stated.

In 2014, 44 percent of newly hired financial professionals were women, Blacks, Latinos or Asians.

“We complement our hiring efforts with increasing awareness regarding diversity and inclusion, which we believe helps our financial professionals better target the broad U.S. market—an approach that is in line with the company’s total market strategy,” the company said. “Looking ahead, we expect to continue to create a field force that both reflects and understands the total U.S. market.”

Both Hug and Verghis concede that it’s easier to set goals and increase diversity recruitment with Prudential’s own staff, versus third-party providers the organization also uses to sell its products.

3. Using Employee Resource Groups Prudential has Business Resource Groups for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, LGBT people, people with disabilities and veterans. They are used increasingly as focus groups, idea generators and conduits into their respective communities.

For example:

• When the company started its initiative to reach the African-American market, the Black BRG was used as a focus group to test advertising.

• The Individual Life Insurance business has engaged the Asian-American BRG in preliminary research about the financial preferences of that segment.

• Prudential’s Hispanic Heritage Network (the Latino BRG) provides courses in translating financial terms for employees and also is an integral part of translation of materials in-language—ranging from minor translations to editing/proofreading material that has been translated by vendors. The Asian-American BRG also helps in this regard.

• The company periodically previews important collateral or communication pieces with relevant BRGs, including the work for the Signature Series Financial Experience surveys and other product-related materials.

• EAGLES, Prudential’s LGBT BRG, not only played a critical role in the launch of the LGBT Financial Experience, but the firm leverages community relationships through this organization to help inform its work that internally and externally.