DUBLIN, Ireland -- Psychographics sounds like a movie about an artist gone mad, but it is another way to reach target audiences that goes beyond traditional demographics. Psychographics finds common interests of members and designs products and services that touch those interests giving emotional value to the purchasing decisions.
Two credit unions, one from the United States, the Christian Community Credit Union, and one from Australia, mecu, have had strong bottom line results from just this type of approach. John Walling, CEO of CCCU, and Robert Allen, mecu group manager of operations, discussed how they made it work for them at WOCCU's 2006 World CU Conference.
CCCU started as a credit union for Baptist ministers, a limiting common bond, according to Walling. Slowly it broadened its membership to cover any Christian living in the United States. Part of membership requirements is to sign a statement of faith. However, that in itself does not delve into the psychographic concept. What does make the CU a psychographic marketer is its loan policies. Fifty percent of its portfolio goes to members, but 50% goes to ministries and organizations it partners with reflecting Christian values. CCCU tells its members it is "Putting your money to good works" in all its marketing literature.
It has been successful. The CU's credit card has an affinity card with a portion of the interest paid being diverted to missions, ministries and disaster relief. CCCU wants its card to be at "the top of the wallet." It works, Walling said. Many members will use the phrase "I'm out giving," synonymously for "I'm going shopping."
mecu has become an eco-friendly credit union. Formed from mergers of educational and scientific and judicial advocate credit unions in January 2003, it was dealing with a highly educated membership who cared about social values. What it found was that sustainable development was an issue that cut across gender and political stance. Right or left wing, members cared about the deterioration of the planet. But like members of any credit union, price also matters. Putting the two together was a win-win-win for the member, for mecu and for the planet.
How did the mecu do it? According to Allen, it offers loan products at lower interest rates if people buy low-mileage vehicles. A small part of income generated from car loans is used to plant trees to help offset carbons sent into the air as the result of driving. Another loan program with low interest is for home improvement loans that reduce energy consumption.
Allen also said his credit union was involved in other social responsible programs such as providing breakfast for school children from a poor neighborhood. The CU wants those children to be at optimum learning capacity that is impossible for a child that is hungry.
Does it work? Allen cited the last member survey, which showed a 95% satisfaction rate.