Hitting the bull's-eye

Marketing in the financial industry

The financial industry is not just about banking and insurance, but spans a wide range of other services such as leasing, real estate and asset management. And marketing in this industry is rather different.

JPGThe sector’s credibility and reputation have taken a battering in the wake of the crisis. But besides the current socio-economic climate, there are other, specific challenges for marketing in this sector. Because the often complex products and services are regulated, marketing professionals are kept on a tight leash. And as there’s little product differentiation, the main distinguishing factors become customer relations, service and trust. Moreover, money is an emotive subject and any marketing should take into account the fact that emotions colour our financial decisions. What’s more, most people actually don’t like talking about money and are quite reluctant to share information about their financial affairs. This complicates research into that area. People will tell you all the details about the bike they’ve just bought, but they’re less open about the terms and conditions of their mortgage or pension plan. As money is a notorious conversation stopper, surveys tend to save questions about the financial profile of respondents until last – and even then they’re quite often left blank.

1. What should the bank of the future look like?

Name

BNP Paribas Fortis Chair in Technology Banking

Duration

2010-2015

Scope and objectives

What should the bank of the future look like? To answer this question, we’ll investigate how the bank could best meet market demand given the competitive and technological context. What do clients really want? What are the existing and future technological options? How is the sector evolving as new players enter the market?

Research so far

We started off by exploring the technological advances and trends, the competitive landscape and the developments in generation-based marketing. We also conducted a qualitative study among clients and non-clients to find out how the bank can make the most of its multi-channel approach. Having grouped our respondents in segments according to variables such as generation, financial profile and education, we analysed their needs, what channels they typically use and what for, and identified any gaps.

Interesting findings

Many people are still afraid of technology. “Technology fear” is an important barrier to overcome as more services are being pushed online. When it comes to self-banking, most of the stress associated with it is caused by the queue of anxious people waiting behind you, and not by having to wait yourself. Generation alone doesn’t determine whether someone will use online services. There are many more variables to consider.

Research team

Marketing: led by Professors Bert Weijters and Steve Muylle
Technology & Operations Management: led by Professors Ann Vereecke and Öykü Işik

2. How do people make financial decisions?

Name

Optima Chair in Financial Planning Practice

Duration

2011-2015

Scope and objectives

How do people make important financial decisions, for instance about their savings, pension plans, property and short or long-term investments? What are their concerns? Our research seeks to map their “decision journey”. Learning about how people actually think will enable Optima to adapt its marketing communications and sales process to enhance its clients’ experience. This is why we’ll also be organising workshops for Optima management to explore how our research could be translated into practice.

Research so far

We’ve established the research agenda and have just finalised a first study, based on in-depth interviews. We asked the respondents about the different steps in their decision process, the trade-offs they make, any perceived risks, the financial and cognitive costs of gathering information, etc. In our analysis we compared the results for three generations on how they make decisions about their financial future.

Research team

Led by Professors Marion Debruyne and Frank Goedertier

3. How can you influence what people think of your brand?

Name

Prime Foundation Partner Belfius

Duration

Since 1993 Belfius has been renewing its partnership every three years

Scope and objectives

As a Prime Foundation Partner, Belfius sets the research agenda of the Vlerick Brand Community. One of our studies tried to identify which brand communication touch-points influence which brand communication KPIs. These touch-points can be anything from a website banner to a TV commercial. Brand communication KPIs, such as people’s attitudes towards the brand, their intention to purchase or their willingness to recommend the brand or the product, indicate how effective the communication is. Our analysis distinguished between different types of media: paid (e.g. TV, magazines), owned (e.g. company website, Twitter) and earned (press coverage, PR, buzz).

Research so far

Following a literature study, we’ve conducted qualitative interviews with a heterogeneous group of people, enabling us to identify different segments according to age, attitude towards innovation, etc. We’ve also interviewed experts from outside the financial sector. Our research has resulted in a theoretical model to simulate the impact of a marketing campaign. It can be used to determine the optimum media mix for a specific target group. So far, the model has been tested on a group of 600 people.

Research team

Led by Professor Frank Goedertier

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Accreditations
& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times