NORTHBROOK, Ill. - Allstate Corp.'s life and financial product distribution unit, Allstate Financial, is gearing up to get more aggressive about marketing annuities, bank products, and investment products and services to its core middle-class customers.

Earlier this year, when the marketing team at Allstate Financial wanted to figure out what is important to a middle-class customer, it dragged three department store mannequins into the office.

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