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Lending Trends in 2023 – Growth Strategies for 2024

By Mark's Minutes, Uncategorized

While challenges with liquidity issues have buffeted the lending landscape, it still warrants a thoughtful strategy for success in the coming year. As you look ahead to what will likely be a challenging market, more discernment and targeted programming will be necessary.

Consumer lending trends for 2023 show:
• Cost of lending increasing for the consumer – Rate increases have made purchases for more expensive items like autos and homes out of reach. Consumers are now unable to qualify for many loans.

• Cost per loan increasing for the institution – According to the Federal Reserve, automotive lender rejection rates grew from 9.1% in February to 14.2% in June. This spike illustrates how quickly economic factors can impact credit access. Credit bureau service costs have also increased, making writing each successful loan more costly.

The economic impact of general softening follows the basic law of supply and demand. The prices of loans have increased, and the demand for items that are the beneficiaries of those loans has decreased. This is borne out by information from PSCU that shows consumer purchases softened in October, and the rate of growth continued to diminish to the lowest point of 2023.

This trend is expected to persist through 2024 and may take 2-3 years to normalize.

How will this impact 2024 marketing?

With demand falling, companies may instinctively cut marketing investments. You want to advocate for a commitment to marketing in these times, as it is often a chance to grow market share.

Biota Li MacDonald, Director of Marketing Strategy at Compremedia, contends their research supports increased marketing investment and showed the following consumer reactions to marketing during this downturn:
• 29% Researched a product or service online
• 20% Clicked on a social media ad
• 18% Responded to an email offer
• 16% Responded to a direct mail product offer
• 16% Followed a company on social media

As you can see, these consumer actions above are not from organic efforts. They come from a planned schedule of intentional marketing campaigns.

Encourage a balanced approach with 2024 lending marketing initiatives.

Maintain a strong marketing foundation in the coming year. However, ensure your efforts and marketing spending align with the current mix of lending opportunities. For instance, data shows that mortgage lending is down, and personal loans are up.

Think in terms of acquisition and optimization to grow your entire lending portfolio.

Acquisition efforts can be externally focused, reaching out to the marketplace for new lending dollars. Think of these efforts as pursuing new money for auto and personal loans from both new and existing consumers.

As suggested above, you want to use targeted media:
• Highly personalized and targeted direct mail with digital response options (QR codes).
• Personalized emails with splash page fulfillment.
• Social media ads around complementary products and lifestyle pages.

Because the lending space is very competitive, you also want to ensure each lead successfully moves through to closing. Consider additional staff follow-up for each loan lead.

Optimization efforts are funds/revenues secured through internal means. For instance, moving a consumer to a more profitable product. Focusing on these incremental optimization efforts during more difficult times can help you improve your overall business and build increased consumer account depth.

Work closely with your data and product teams to identify where there may be opportunities for improvement. Then, reach out to these consumers with email, direct mail, and personal calls to present these options.

The industry is in a challenging place going into the next year. If you need a ready partner for all things marketing, consider your friends at Westamerica. We exist to help you grow!

Is your auto lending stuck in the garage?

By Mark's Minutes, Uncategorized

We’ve talked about the challenges in this economy in past updates. Seems like we have a genuine ‘trifecta’ of challenges that will impact auto lending.

1.) Rising Interest Rates – The Fed just bumped the rates up another .25% last week. That makes it harder for you to plan interest rate promotions and margin returns, in addition to raising the consumer’s rate.

2.) The Consumer Fear Factor – The talk of recession gets louder. It almost doesn’t matter if there is one or not, but rather what people think. According to, a full 69% of consumers feel a recession will hit before the end of 2023.

3.) New Car Supply Chain Improvement – With supply increasing, prices of new cars are stabilizing and that is pushing down the value of used cars. While this makes used cars more accessible, the rising rates add another level of difficulty to making the regular payments.

One thing is for certain, selling auto loans will be different in 2023 than 2022. There will still be many cars financed and you can still secure your fair share.

Let’s look at each of these scenarios above and identify approaches your company can use to market effectively in light of these conditions.

Selling Auto Loans in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

We know that most consumers are looking at the monthly payment when they go to buy a car. The question becomes, “How much car can I afford to buy to get the payment I need? When we think of this from the consumer’s point of view, we can offer solutions, instead of just a rate. Your campaigns can focus on “getting someone into the car of their dreams” and helping them “with the most competitive loan terms possible”.

Acting as their consultant you can help them get to the best rate they can within their current circumstances. You also have the unique opportunity to help those credit challenged with a credit building program that might start out at a higher rate (because of risk) but can be refinanced in year two or three based on payment behavior, etc. Longer terms can help offset a higher rate.

Advertising and marketing messaging can promise a free assessment and the best rate possible for their current circumstances. Terms like “See us first; See us before you shop; and Complementary Prequalification” help to set the tone.

Decreasing Consumer Fears in Borrowing

Often consumers will wait on an opportunity because of their fear of what might happen. Of course there is no way to eliminate risk (or a recession), but lending insurance products have been created to reduce the risk. For instance, in the event of a job loss debt protection insurance can delay payments for 6 months. Gap insurance can also help to alleviate any fears that might come from the rapid changes in car values that are predicted.

Marketing Against the New Car Dealership Low Rates

We haven’t seen these yet, but the “zero” interest rates will likely appear if the economy cools. Just as the manufacturers have improved supply, demand may drop which means price decreases and dealmaking will start.

The best defense to this is a good offense. Promote yourself as the place to come for auto loans. Create auto buying seminars for the consumer to learn how to secure the best loan, how to shop for the best car, and how to make a smart decision in this new market reality. Reengage your local dealerships and leverage your indirect lending relationships.

There won’t be any much low-hanging fruit to pick from in these next few years. You’ll need to use all your tools to stay in front of the consumer and build your institution as the place to come for all things auto.

Thanks for joining me today!

Home Equity – The Biggest Lending Opportunity for 2021

By Uncategorized

When you are in the middle of a pandemic, the last thing you likely want to do is add debt onto an already unstable situation. And certainly not onto your primary living space. So was the thinking in 2020 according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Home equity loan debt declined in 2019 and was projected to do the same in 2020.

However, with the rapid appreciation of home pricing during this past year, and the pandemic seeming to be on the downhill of its peak, homeowners may now be ready to tap into the equity opportunity that exists.

In fact, estimates are as high as a 10+ percentage growth rate for home equity lending volume.

What’s Fueling this Positive Outlook?

The lowering of mortgage rates earlier in 2020 increased demand for first mortgages, refinancing and new home purchases. The resulting impact meant home prices grew at double digit rates stemming from large amounts of buyers and not enough sellers. Basic supply and demand.

The Current Equity Market

According to CoreLogic, U.S. homeowners with mortgages have seen their equity increase by a total of $1 trillion since the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 10.8%, year over year. The average homeowner has approximately $200,000 of home equity.

The question becomes how to help the homeowner unlock this equity to use in a productive manner meeting their financial and lifestyle requirements.

Marketing Home Equity Loans

To generate the greatest success in home equity lending, several key promotional strategies should be employed.

1) Create a comprehensive integrated awareness campaign
This leverages all forms of digital and print merchandising to call attention to your rates, terms and service advantages. Build an effective theme to use as an umbrella and support it with impactful copy and messaging.

2) Implement targeted direct mail to highly targeted and focused outbound mailing.
The market for home equity loans will be heating up in 2021. Make sure to promote early and often to ensure that you secure your fair share of this large and growing segment.

3) Activate existing home equity lines of credit
Use a lettercheck campaign to encourage existing account holders to tap into their credit lines. The checks offer immediate results and convenience.

The market for home equity loans will be heating up in 2021. Make sure to promote early and often to ensure that you secure your fair share of this large and growing segment.

Need help? Contact your Westamerica representative or click here

Antimicrobial Printing

Antimicrobial Print Coatings

By Uncategorized

How Can New Antimicrobial Print Coatings Help Your Business?

Antimicrobial soap has been around for nearly 50 years. Today, it is estimated that nearly 3 out of 4 soaps that are sold contain antimicrobial properties.

As consumers, we have become used to, and almost expect soaps to contain ingredients that deliver additional benefits. Not only do we want soap to clean our hands and face, We also want it to protect us.

COVID-19 Ushers in a New Era of Antimicrobial Treatments

Today we are constantly reminded of the threat of contracting the COVID virus. It’s ever- present in our work, home and play. It’s understandable that with an increased concern, new products and ideas are coming forth to enhance our safety.

Westamerica is an early adopter of specialized coatings that actually reduce the transmission of microbes from coated print materials.

Now, for just pennies, you can add an antimicrobial coating to your printed products. Think of it just like the antimicrobial soap, but for print materials.

Active Testing of the Antimicrobial Coating Continues Throughout the World

With the importance of transmission reduction only continuing to increase, it was just a matter of time before the testing agencies had a chance to review this coating for effectiveness against SARS-Cov-V2. While new information continues to come in daily on this topic, the latest information from London suggests that this coating actually will reduce spread significantly:

Antimicrobial Icons

Who Should Consider Antimicrobial Print Coatings?

Most companies that interact with the consuming public should consider antimicrobial coatings in some or all of their printed products. The following industries are good candidates for antimicrobial coated print products:

  • Industry

  • Consumer Products
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Education
  • Restaurants and Hospitality
  • Retail and Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Usage

  • Packaging Coatings
  • Packaging Coatings
  • Print Materials, Signs and Displays
  • Menus, Signs and Displays
  • Brochures, Flyers and Point of Sale
  • Informational Brochures

One Company’s Example – An Early Adoption of Antimicrobial Packaging

Westamerica customer, Transfer Technology became an early adopter of this new coating for their products. As producers of Relieved Lidocaine patches, The Patch That Sticks!, Transfer Technology realized that adding the antimicrobial coating would add tremendous value to their product, differentiate themselves from other competitors and importantly, benefit their customers.

Antimicrobial Print Coating

Dawn Hewitt, National Sales Director and Co-owner of Transfer Technology explained, “we believe that our retailers will appreciate the additional steps we’re taking to provide an extra layer of safety for the consumer. We are already raising the bar in the industry with our great product and now we offer an improved and enhanced package. It’s a win-win.”

Added Doug Grant , CEO of Westamerica, “we believe that with so much concern today for germ transmission, many products will be featuring these types of added safety precautions. For instance, having a protective coating at the consumer’s ‘point of touch’ will aid in reducing microbial growth. Think of how important this is for drug stores and other high traffic environments.”

Make the Consumer Aware of Your Use

Antimicrobial LogoWestamerica has developed support materials to help customers communicate their use of the new coating on any of the products that consumers may interact with. A dedicated web-site, will host featured information on developments within this area and the latest on news and information.

Additionally, artwork to support the use of these coatings can be provided for placement in company artwork. These well-designed logo images are intended to communicate confidence and safety at the consumer’s “point of touch.”

For even more information, check out

Why Consumers in Your Business Should Wear Masks

By Uncategorized

EasyMask GroceryAs the US opens up for business once again following the COVID-19 Pandemic and stay-at-home social distancing recommendations lift from coast to coast, the first “post-pandemic” consumers might be arriving in your businesses soon.

When they do, will they be following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks? And what do you do if they aren’t?

Retail experiences will feel much different in the days and weeks that stretch into the summer of 2020 because of social distancing protocols. We still have things to learn about COVID-19 infection control, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and how it passes between people, or even who is at the most risk regarding health concerns. Therefore, the CDC, the WHO, the Federal Government, along with many state and local governments have either recommended or required that all people wear masks as part of their infection control guidelines. This is especially so when they are within indoor shared spaces where social distancing standards are challenging to maintain.

To see a social distancing summary on face masks by state, please click here.

Retailers have had a mixed response to social distancing protocols. Some have enforced masks; others choose to let their customers decide.

Costco published a message on its website that requires its employees and guests to wear a facemask. They summarize their position with, “In short, we believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances,” and that despite those who think it is silly or ineffective, they were “choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments.

Please click here to read the full Costco statement.

CostcoAmazon, like Costco, requires their team members and customers to wear masks at Whole Foods Market stores. However, they also offer free disposable masks to all Whole Foods Market customers to any customers who did not bring a face covering with them.

Please click here to read the full Amazon statement.

amazonHow these brands will enforce their policies is likely to vary from location to location. One California Costco location had masks available to members who didn’t have them, but that is not to say all sites do. Amazon says they will have them available, along with other COVID-19 precautions.

TraderJoeHowever, other retailers across the country have experienced unfortunate optics on the enforcement of the face-covering recommendation or requirements. The NY Times reports that an employee in a California Trader Joe’s store in southern CA had an ugly exchange with a non-compliant customer in May that ended up online.

TargetSome exchanges reported by The NY Times are more violent. A Target employee in Van Nuys, CA, broke his arm escorting customers refusing to wear a mask out of the store. A cashier in Perkasie, PA, was punched in the face three times after refusing to sell cigars to a customer without a mask. In San Antonio, TX, a man who could not ride the bus without a face cover shot another passenger.

While these stories are extreme, smaller unpleasant moments have erupted all across the country. None of them make anyone feel good about the brands associated with them. They also highlight that enforcement of the face mask recommendation and requirement is falling squarely in the lap of your customer-facing employees.

There are a few things you can do to help your team:

Have a clear policy on face masks for your team and your visitors.

Review the rules for your area. It’s a good idea to know what your state or local government has said the policy is in your area. You can read all about the laws in your state on here.

Have a role-playing session for your managers to practice the conversation. Training and practice help your front-facing team navigate the tricky tightrope of enforcing the company’s rules and community in the best possible way. It is critical to give them words and phrases to use that can de-escalate a situation if it starts to take a turn for the worse. Also, make it clear what you believe is the limit of their authority by giving them boundaries. If they are unable to manage the situation to a satisfactory conclusion, what is the next step for them to take?

Give front-facing teams an easy path to resolve the situation. It would help your organization make the best of what could become a bad situation to have a complimentary disposable mask available to offer customers. It might provide a middle ground in a confrontation that could save the day and the relationship with the customer. Our EasyMask™ courtesy mask offers a solution that is affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly.

Support your organization with signage and instructions for everyone visiting. Make sure that you’ve provided instructional signage, sanitizing stations and other important information to make sure consumers are educated on your commitment to managing the spread of this disease. For ideas on how to manage these issues, review Westamerica’s Reopen With Confidence brochure here.

Reopen with Confidence BrochureAs we all get used to what the expectations are for social distancing protocols as the country reopens, we owe it to our teams and consumers to be as prepared as possible to meet social distancing guidelines and the related health concerns of the “new normal.” Face masks are likely to be a part of our social distancing recommendations for brick and mortar interactions for the months ahead.

With clear communication, a little preparation, and common courtesy, we can preserve our relationships with consumers and provide the best possible infection control experience that leaves them smiling in the aisles—even if we can’t see it behind their masks.

To request a sample of the EasyMask™, please click here.

EasyMaskWestamerica Communications is the new spirit of communications with creative solutions for every form of media, from web strategies to traditional concepts to print and mail options, and more. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

To schedule your free consultation with Westamerica Communications today, contact us, call us at (949) 462-3600, or visit us at


MacFarquhar, Neil. “Who’s Enforcing Mask Rules? Often Retail Workers, and They’re Getting Hurt.” 15 May 2020. Web. 11 June 2020.

“Coronavirus.” Web. 11 June 2020.

“Making masks available to Whole Foods Market customers nationwide.” 30 April 2020. Web. 11 June 2020.

Meyerstein, Avi. Brian Hendrix & Brad Hiles. “Returning to work with masks?” Answers to top employer questions.” 3 May 2020. Web. 11 June 2020.

Roberts, Caroline. “Are face masks required where you live? Here are the rules for all 50 states.” 9 June 2020. Web. 11 June 2020.


To enforce the face mask or not to? That is the question your customer-facing employees are asking themselves. Here’s how you can help them:

What do you plan to do when customers arrive at your location without a face mask? We have some ideas in our latest:

What to do when your customers don’t have a face mask? The face mask question you and your employees must answer and here’s how we can help:

Westamerica Communications Staff

We Remain Open During the Coronavirus Epidemic

By Uncategorized

Because the print, mail,  packaging and fulfillment services we provide are essential to our clients deemed to be Critical Infrastructure, we remain fully operational and our supply chains are intact.  These client industries include healthcare, medical/pharmaceutical, financial/banking, city/municipality, and transportation/logistics.

Westamerica Communications StaffOur employee health and safety is our number one priority.  We’ve taken extensive steps to keep our employees safely out of harm’s way, including the following key processes:

  • Remote employee workstations for all non-operational staff
  • Modifications in our processes to minimize employee-to-employee contact including staggered shifts and new workflows
  • Professional cleaning and sanitizing every night
  • Personal space cleaning kits placed throughout the organization
  • Hand sanitizing stations generously available throughout the plant
  • Gloves and masks available to employees that need them
  • Reminder posters throughout the offices to ensure appropriate hygienic practices
  • Visitor access to our facility is restricted to critical essential business only

This is a time that we will be talking about for generations to come.  May it be a time that we see a restoration of health and unity, positive spirit and goodwill – in our families, in our communities, in our nation, and throughout our world.  That’s our prayer.

Our Westamerica rallying cry is “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy.”  Thank you for your continued business and support.

Any questions please feel free to contact us or call us at (949)462-3600.