THINK 12: Big Challenges to Increase Membership
BOCA RATON, Fla. — A pair of presentations meant to discuss how credit unions can better attract new members and become the first cult brand in financial services ran into some negative consumer comments early on.
Neil Goldman, senior partner at Goldman Consulting and Strategy, shared what his firm had heard in a series of focus groups with consumers who are not credit union members.
Goldman made his presentation to credit union executives attending the THINK 12 conference last week, and the comments came from videos of the focus group sessions.
“There is a credit union branch a little close to my house, but it always looks a little seedy to me,” said one focus group participant from South Florida, the region from which the researchers drew most of their participants. Other comments included, “I wouldn't know where to find one in my area”; “I don't know where any are;” and “I don't think I can belong to one since my work doesn't offer it.”
Goldman called comments like these and the misunderstandings, and ignorance that underpinned them, stumbling blocks that have cropped up in the opportunity big banks provided credit unions to grow in the last two years.
“I am not going to open up the whole conversation over a potential national brand, since we all know how controversial this is and I don't want to go there,” Goldman told the assembled executives. But reacting to a comment from another focus group participant, Goldman asked if there might be room for national signage. “Imagine if above every Chinese food restaurant in the country there appeared a large Chinese symbol that let consumers identify that was a location where they could find Chinese food. Doesn't it stand to reason that more consumers would eat more Chinese food? How about for credit unions? That's what credit unions need on the road to becoming more consumer's primary financial institutions. They need to make it easier for more consumers to identify them."
Goldman was paired in the session with Alexis Maybank, founding CEO of Gilt Groupe, an online retailer that is become an acknowledged cult brand. Maybank shared how the firm came to use so-called “exclusivity marketing” to excite consumers and, in turn, generate consumer data that allowed the firm to further personalize the shopping experience and become one of the most trusted consumer firms on the Internet.
The firm allows shoppers to buy merchandise on the site for only two hours a day, a factor which contributes significantly to consumer excitement and competition for the merchandise that the company makes a point of changing quickly.
“You cannot advertise your way to trust,” Maybank told the executives. “Consumers have to feel the trust you earn in the many different ways you interact with them,” she said.