Experiential marketing: rethinking the banking experience

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Captivate your customers
By Ruth Bailey, contributor. 1 February, 2018
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Experiential marketing is defined as a ‘marketing strategy that engages consumers using branded experiences.’ These activations are designed to immerse brand customers in memorable experiences to ensure awareness and retention of the brand in the consumers’ minds.

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Historically, the sponsorships folio of a banking institution is where experience would be realised, with emphasis on money-can’t-buy VIP experiences for sporting events. UK Barclays sponsorship of the ATP Tennis Championships saw the activation of a 7,000m2 Fan Zone and the opportunity for customers to spend time with elite players. The activation (featuring other leverageable benefits) helped to promote the bank’s premier account service and generate leads from an estimated 400,000 people who passed through the Fan Zone.

Looking more to their own home turf, Canadian bank Tangerine took the concept of the physical presence of branches and created a pop-up cafe experience in various locations across the country. According to FinExtra, high footfall locations are leveraged to rapidly onboard customers. In place for anywhere between 6-9 months, these pop-up cafes have resulted in improved brand recognition.

But a shift in consumer behaviour – the uptake of mobile banking – has removed the necessity for many customers to visit branches, leaving banks and financial institutions to reassess their bricks and mortar value proposition within the new context of the customer experience paradigm.

Tearsheet suggests that rather than relying on their products, banks need to differentiate themselves through the experiences they provide. In the same article, Dean Nicolacakis, principal and fintech co-lead at PwC, goes on to add that, “There’s been a shift away from product pushing to advice and financial health,” - and experiences are a great way to offer that assistance in a way that resonates with customers.

Experiences that help customers realise their life aspirations

The Suncorp Discovery Store, located in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, is a concept store that aims to do just that. The store offers an immersive retail journey where visitors can attend events, interactive workshops and explore solutions tailored to their life goals.

Commenting on the newly-launched concept store, Pip Marlow, Suncorp CEO customer marketplace, says, “We’re shifting the focus from products and services, to having conversations that are more about our customers’ aspirations, whether it’s home ownership, saving for a holiday or buying a car, so we can create value for them.”

Experiences that bring customers moments of joy

Experiential marketing activations that reach customers via their passions – be it lifestyle, food, travel, luxury or just good old-fashioned fun – continue to drive brand loyalty for financial services brands across the world, including for Citibank US. “Imagine if a bank could help you feel a little more joy” that was the tagline for JOYTM, an activation that saw Citi set up a ball pit in Times Square that rewarded anyone who jumped in with surprises, prizes and moments of joy. Along with brand awareness, for Citi, this activation was all about cultivating happier and more loyal customers.

Experiential marketing activations that reach customers via their passions – be it lifestyle, food, travel, luxury or just good old-fashioned fun – continue to drive brand loyalty for financial services brands across the world.

Experiences that help customers use less and save more

Committed to helping Aussie farmers grow, agribusiness and the impact farming has on our lives is one of the central pillars behind the online savings arm of RaboBank, RaboDirect. The RaboDirect Financial Health Barometer report is the summary findings of a survey of 2,300 Australians, aged between 18 and 65, about their attitudes towards food and waste, savings and debt, as well as farming and resources. To celebrate and launch the study, RaboDirect created an Instant Pop-up restaurant with the aim of helping people to reduce their household waste, save more and also understand how food gets from farm to fork. A spokesperson on behalf of RaboDirect estimated that 85,000 people were exposed to the activation and over 1,100 meals were served by the kitchen during the one-day event. The Cooks Co-op chef, Martin Boetz, who created the special restaurant menu, also shared tips on the day as to how guests of the restaurant could reduce waste in their own kitchen.

Connecting with consumers is becoming increasingly more challenging for finance brands who are competing with a new wave of fintech and traditional banking products and platforms. The fastest way to achieve brand loyalty though could be tied up in the type of experience and unique value these brands can deliver their customers.

Image: Citibank

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Ruth studied journalism via QUT, and from there, the art of storytelling quickly morphed into an ability to develop integrated marketing strategies, with a predominant leaning towards content marketing. Ruth has practised marketing and communications in some form or another for over 13 years, working with software, arts, government, and digital organisations to tell their brand stories and share their work in creative executions.