Guest blog post by Juliet Carey, Head of Financial Services, Weber Shandwick
Consumer lifestyle choices are changing. The advances of technology and digital literacy in these uncertain economic times have dramatically altered the ways in which consumers live their lives. A knock-on effect of this change is a fundamental shift in what they demand and expect from financial products and services.
We discussed these very issues at a recent roundtable event at the Institute of Directors in London. Financial journalists, IFA groups and representatives from leading product providers discussed whether it was time to rip up the existing suite of financial products and start again or whether a large dose of innovation is needed to keep the industry afloat. We also commissioned a study with ICM that found that 50 per cent respondents agreed that financial products currently available don’t fit into their lifestyle or individual needs. Forty eight per cent simply did not understand the ‘jargon’ used to promote financial products as they yearned for simplicity.
The truth is many consumers don’t feel able to think about long-term money planning issues with 76 per cent of those surveyed believed that mortgages were no longer affordable, with over 46 per cent seeing life insurance as an expensive luxury. Given the current economic climate these findings are understandable. However this rise of this short termism calls into question whether focusing on products serving long term needs will engage this new generation of consumers. This sets providers the challenge of how to excite modern consumers. Many consumers feel overloaded by the torrent of gadgetry and technology they are exposed to in day to day life and financial services companies are at risk of falling victim to a potential backlash.
So what’s the solution? Well, it may lie in focusing on simple products which serve clearly defined short term consumer needs such as saving for a new baby or planning a holiday. Providers need to go back to basics and ask themselves whether the products they offer serve an underlying purpose and are relevant. If you want to understand what consumers really think about your services, book yourself into one of our Weber Shandwick Financial consumer and client workshops. In these sessions we work together with financial product providers to map out products of the future and explore how brands need to behave in the marketplace to stay relevant to their target customers.
After all, it’s the content of the conversation that’s necessary for consumer engagement. Never forget this!