As summer approaches and the nation discusses what it takes to move forward during the pandemic, it’s time for credit unions and marketing teams to reemerge from our hunkered-down states.
After weeks of anxiously watching how things unfold with the global health crisis, many of our members are starting to feel fatigued and ready for some good news to stay motivated. By now, messages of solidarity are beginning to sound a little stale. While that messaging was completely appropriate and necessary, it is now time to pivot from crisis mode into action once again.
So, how do we connect with members and their desire for a bit of their old lives back, while still being sensitive to an ongoing pandemic and looming recession? We can start by understanding the changes within our member segments, and then create plans based on the new information.
Evolving Member Segments
Segments and member personas are powerful tools, but our old data is unlikely to be reliable. Information on income, assets and purchasing intentions may be drastically different than they were at the beginning of the year. As many people reassess what they are prioritizing, some behaviors may even be changed for the long-haul.
Ernst and Young’s recent consumer index provides information on how consumer behaviors are adjusting due to the pandemic. As you look at your membership, see how many people now fall into one of these new segments:
- Hibernate and Spend (11%): These members are most concerned with the pandemic, but best positioned to deal with it. They are spending more, saying that products have changed, and that brands are now more important.
- Stay Calm and Carry On (26%): These members are not changing their spending habits.
- Save and Stockpile (35%): These members are not as concerned about the pandemic, but are worried about the impact to their families. They are pessimistic about the long-term effects.
- Cut Deep (27%): These members are the hardest hit, have the biggest change in behavior, and are most pessimistic about the future. Almost a quarter have had their jobs suspended, either temporarily or permanently. They are buying just the essentials and say brands are now far less important.
How you approach changes to your marketing over the summer will depend on the sentiments of your membership and how their capabilities have changed. You must keep a clear understanding of how your segments are feeling and how their actions are changing.
If you skew heavily towards members who have maintained many of their resources and are generally optimistic about the future, you can lean on your mission to seperate yourself from other brands. Focus on beefing up your digital offerings and marketing campaigns, while removing barriers for members maintaining social-distancing practices and assisting members in finding ways to enjoy everyday comforts while they are at home.
For credit unions that have a more pessimistic membership and more individuals who have lost income or have fallen ill, your approach needs to be different. With these members, find ways to provide relief from their debt obligations and offer reasons to feel better about their long-term financial position. You can create solutions as their credit union, but also lean on your network and partnerships to give information about places they can find assistance or support.
We can expect that at some point, everyone is going to transition out of their crisis segment and into their new normal. EY also offers five segments that we will likely see emerge:
- Back with a Bang (9%): These members are younger and working. Their daily lives were most disrupted, but they are also most optimistic and are spending as a result.
- Get to Normal (31%): These members are spending like they previously did and their daily lives were never really affected.
- Cautiously Extravagant (25%): These members are middle to high income and are focused on health. They will spend more in areas important to them.
- Stay Frugal (22%): These members are spending slightly less and trying to get back on their feet.
- Keep Cutting (13%): These members are the least educated and least likely to be working. They are making deep spending cuts, changing what they buy and how.
As people reflect on what is important to them, some members will change the types of businesses they seek out and what things they consume. This is a huge opportunity for credit unions and one that we should be prepared for. Take a look at your process for gaining and onboarding new members. Work on necessary changes to offer remote solutions that are easy to use and incorporate your credit union’s personality.
Prepare a number of short-term campaigns that you can pull out quickly as you analyze changes within your membership. Ideally, they’ll have some flexibility so you can make adjustments to keep them relevant and appropriate for your local environment. If you already have strong digital marketing skills, continue to flex those muscles when you plan delivery channels. If not, create a plan to develop those skills and utilize whatever social media, website, email, or digital ad knowledge you have already.
For the long-term, this is a great time to take a step back and assess your position. You may decide that you’ve ignored your remote experiences in favor of face-to-face. Now may be the right time to make a shift in training and technology investment. Or, you may realize that this is the perfect opportunity to solidify your place in the local community and take advantage of potential members who are realigning their actions with their values. As we all respond to the shock of these current times, your credit union can do the same and come out the other side as a stronger institution, with stronger relationship ties with your members.