Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health insurers have recognized that the Spanish-speaking and Hispanic population presents a significant opportunity for growth. According to the CDC, as of early 2013 there were approximately 54 million individuals of Hispanic origin, constituting 17% of the US population. Approximately 30% of those individuals were uninsured. This is the largest ethnic group of uninsured individuals in the US. In addition, the Hispanic population is expected to reach 128 million by 2060 and constitute approximately 30% of the overall US population.
Given these statistics, it is no surprise that “En Español” buttons, providing a Spanish-translated version of payer sites, have popped up across the industry. However, if you want to reach and connect with the Hispanic community, a simple translation is not nearly enough. You will need to develop custom messaging that is targeted, culturally aware, and addresses the concerns, situations, and values of this population. After all, marketing is as much, if not more, about connection and emotion as it is about information.
“En Español” is insufficient
There is nothing innately wrong with translating your website to Spanish. In fact, this is a very important first step for many organizations. It is easy to implement and maintain, and it opens up the site to a part of the population who may not speak English as their first language. The problem is that this is where many organizations’ efforts end. There are many ways, besides just language, to demonstrate deeper cultural insights. For example, the Hispanic population:
- Values a custom message in Spanish, which shows understanding and helps build trust
- Are very aware of and committed to family values and tradition
- Often have multi-generational households
- Often maintains a Spanish-dominant language within their households
- Heavily weighs word of mouth above information from other sources
- Has a more varied work schedule than the typical nine to five
It is important for insurers to consider these differences when targeting the Hispanic population, to make sure they provide a personalized experience that in turn engages the user, and helps convert them from shopper to a loyal member.
Beyond “En Español”
So how can insurers create a better customer experience for their Hispanic population? First and foremost, insurers need to recognize that there are significant opportunities in this market, currently and in the future, based on forecasted growth. Second, acknowledge that this population has unique needs that should be addressed proactively. Tactically, it is important to implement supporting services that meet the needs of the Hispanic population; for example, keeping a call center open during the day and evening hours and providing Spanish-speaking agents. In addition, be sure to have agents who can provide information on a variety of products, from major medical to Medicare, given that an individual may be purchasing insurance for themselves as well as their elderly parents.
Another important strategy for insurers to consider is utilizing social networks. Given the heavy mobile use and reliance on word of mouth within this population, insurers should cultivate their social networks to include content and messaging specifically for the Hispanic population that can be easily shared and distributed.
It is important for organizations to understand the value of the Hispanic population and take proactive steps to meet their needs. This is just the tip of the iceberg: there are myriad approaches that can be tailored to the unique characteristics of the Hispanic population in a specific state. Understanding and developing a roadmap now to engage this population can be a crucial component of any insurer’s overall growth strategy.