Filene Report Looks to Imagery to Support and Aid Low-Income Savers
A new Filene Research Institute study, "Does Imagery Matter: Delving into the Mind of Low-to-Moderate Income Savers," found that certain images can help credit unions better connect with and attract low-to-moderate income consumers.
Using the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, a methodology that offers insights about human decision making through metaphors and storytelling, researchers conducted consumer-focused studies to understand the attitudes of LMI households toward money and saving.
According to the report, attracting LMI consumers boils down to understanding their mindset about personal finances and financial services. In addition, choosing emotionally provocative images can help in successfully connecting with these consumers.
Low-to-moderate income women play an important role in financial decisions, and mothers, in particular, have powerful feelings about money as it impacts their families' futures. The perception is that "money makes you strong and independent," the report said. The survey found that while mothers may want to put savings first, the reality is that, given their income and spending needs, putting aside money for savings seems impossible.
Low-to-moderate income consumers also admitted to feeling lost about where to go for financial advice and realizing their financial goals, whether it's owning a house or living their dreams.
To help credit unions connect, the study suggested tying the perception that money makes a person a winner with an image that plays up the belief that mothers are winners regardless of income.
"Saving money often seems futile to the LMI group, but they understand it's the only way to build a safer, more promising future," the report said. "It's hard to think about getting to a better life when 'getting by' seems the best you can do."
When asked to describe what they feel about saving money for themselves or for their children's future, survey respondents evoked vivid-often threatening-imagery: ocean waves crashing against rocks; happy people blithely unaware of predatory sharks circling nearby; being handcuffed by past mistakes; a person physically torn up by the need for money; and someone alone in a dark woods.
Images that acknowledge that fear while expressing the credit union's belief in an individual's power to succeed can resonate deeply with this group. In terms of trust, the study found that credit unions maybe more favorably viewed than other institutions.
"LMI consumers are more open to messages from people or institutions who 'get them' -their challenges, needs, and aspirations-and may be more apt to view nonprofit, membership-based credit unions as in tune with their needs," said Filene Consumer Researcher Maya Bourdeau.