People use bank accounts differently now: How marketers must adapt

The shift to debit transactions has generated greater amounts of data for banks and credit unions to factor into their marketing strategies. Included in this trend is the growing use of online subscription services like Amazon Prime and Netflix, which can drive new approaches to segmentation and messaging.

There has been a subtle power shift toward control by the consumer and away from the marketer. With plenty of time at home, consumers have started paying closer attention to their finances, and begun to redefine their attitudes and strategies toward money.

Even before the pandemic, consumers were already moving toward telling financial institutions what they wanted instead of waiting for banks to tell them what they needed. While this behavior seemed concentrated with Millennials at first, we now see that it spans generations and groups.

Customers are also using their bank accounts differently. Before, they set up multiple accounts. Now, they feel like they only need one or two because their lives and purchases are dominated by cards — not checking accounts. Since March, checking account sales are down 200% in the U.S., according to Raddon. Credit usage is also down, while debit card usage increased by 8.6%, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s a sea change.

What behavioral insights can we draw from this data? Consumers want to avoid instability and debt. They may also have concerns about income and the role of recurring subscription payments, a larger component of consumer spending than just a few years ago. All that opens a door for financial marketers to pivot their strategies after the pandemic subsides.


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