Spanish for Professional Purposes...

...for teachers and students who see the need for Spanish language and Hispanic cultures knowledge in professional contexts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Understanding the Competition in a Bilingual and Bicultural Context

As part of the unit on business & entrepreneurship, students in the Spanish for the Professions course at UNC-CH read an article about the importance of access to financial institutions for immigrants (both so the immigrants can use the goods & services offered by the institutions and so that the institutions can increase their client base--a real win-win)

In class, students quickly realize how complex it can be to understand competition. When you ask "for a financial institution that wants to attract new clients who are immigrants, what is the competition?", the first thing that comes to mind is obvious: other banks. But dig a little deeper and you find that the competition is complicated and closely tied to culture.

For financial institutions trying to attract immigrant clients, the competition might be the coffee can under the kitchen sink where all money is kept in cash. It might be the family in the home country where a lot of earnings are sent by money transfer. Bad experiences with financial institutions in the home country might be a deterrent.

If you want the competitive edge, you have to dig deep and understand the underlying cultural factors that affect your customers' behavior:

how do you overcome the concerns that drive someone to keep all their money in their home in cash?

are you going to offer competitive wire transfer services?

how are you going to attract someone with an inherent distrust of financial institutions in the first place?

Combine this approach to understanding your customers with business savvy and you will have a winning combination!

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