August 21, 2014
Credit Union Management magazine’s Web-only “Inside Marketing” column runs the third Thursday of the month.
Contributed by LendKey Technologies, New York, based on its whitepaper, “Marketing & Developing Financial Products for Women,” produced in partnership with Shari Storm
While women frequently make their family’s financial decisions, the financial services industry has a mixed review with this market segment. A 2010 Boston Consulting Group study, for instance, revealed that women globally identified financial services as the industry they are most dissatisfied with on a service and product level.
The reason for the negative judgment? Those surveyed said the industry doesn’t understand that women view money and wealth differently from men. Women generally don’t seek to accumulate money, the study reported, but see it as a way to care for their families, improve their lives and find security.
A wide array of data, though, support the idea that women are a segment of the population not to be ignored or overlooked. Women control 83 percent of all consumer purchases, including electronics, health care and cars, according to a report in The Economist. And women control $8 trillion in assets in the United States and are expected to control $22 trillion by 2020, according to BankInnovation.net.
Marketing and developing financial products specifically for women is becoming increasingly critical for credit unions. Holly Buchanan, co-author of the book The Soccer Mom Myth and author of Selling Financial Services to Women, has been working on marketing to women since 2005.
Many stereotypes about women and their buying habits are untrue, according to Buchanan. She advises any company thinking of launching a campaign geared to women to consult an advisory board of diverse women.
“The advisory board should have women from each age group,” she writes. “Include moms as well as women without children. Make sure you have racial diversity as well as economic and political.”
Another tip Buchanan gives is to use imagery that is unexpected and contrary to what is traditionally viewed as a woman’s role. “Don’t, don’t, don’t use another photo of a woman in the house caring for children or a woman outside doing yoga!” says Buchanan. “Try something unexpected, like a woman changing a tire or riding a skate board. Actively break stereotypes in your marketing. Show women in roles beyond what we might typically expect.”
Women’s Market Made the Most Sense
Fort Worth Community Credit Union, launched its “Gabby Knows / Get Your Worth On” campaign in 2011. The impetus for the program was a desire to launch a social media campaign. Gabby Knows / Get Your Worth On is a blog and Facebook page that posts content that is helpful, entertaining and engaging to women in the CU’s community.
“We knew that it was important to understand our target niche and to know in advance what our goals were,” explains Brandy Scarlett, marketing administrator for the $860 million credit union in Fort Worth, Texas. “We researched a lot of market segments and women just made the most sense.
“Social media efforts are about engagement and quality content. It’s about being there for your member when they need you,” says Scarlett. “That is what we are trying to achieve with Gabby Knows.”
What advice would Scarlett give others who are thinking of launching programs aimed at women?
“Have a strategy before you do anything,” she says. “Don’t try to be all things to all people. Know your niche. Know your goals. Don’t turn your social media site into a billboard for your rates. Women know where to go to get your rates. What they want to know is who you are—as an organization and as people. That is what they care about.”
The market category of women is broad and lucrative to be a smart target niche for credit unions. Women’s spending power, influence over friends and family, and their economic trajectory make them a powerful consumer force.
To reach this market, it is important to have a deep understanding of their needs, preferences and perceptions. By using surveys, focus groups, advisory councils and research, a credit union can develop a strong program for women. It is essential that the whole organization—not just the marketing department–embrace and support the program.
Marketing to women has challenges that can be overcome. Capturing the women’s market can set your credit union apart from the others and propel your success for years to come.