Marketers’ Conference Explores New Consumers

Josh Allison and Kelley Parks open the 2012 Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Marketers’ Conference with pictures of shampoo bottles, toothbrushes and salad oils crammed onto grocery store shelves. Forty-five Northwest credit union marketers attending the conference respond by squinting to see if they can recognize any of their personal favorites. It seems impossible.

“You are on the shelf,” Allison tells them. “Consumers don’t think differently about financial institutions.”

For the next hour, Allison, the relationship development manager for Horizon Credit Union, and Kelley Parks, creative catalyst at the gira{ph} agency, offer a rivetingif not unnervingpresentation.

Gone are the days, they noted, when Henry Ford could dictate to consumers that they could only purchase black cars. Fast forward from those daysnow called “Marketing 1.0” to the era of “Marketing 3.0” where the consumer is in control.

Today’s consumer is more likely to create his own solutions, asks what’s in it for himself, seeks more from any given product, takes the time to read the ingredients on the box and becomes, and is essentially a co-creator of the product he’s buying into.

“If new consumers know they can go anywhere to get the products they want, what differentiates you?” Allison asked.

Allison and Parks shared data with marketers showing that new consumers are less likely to trust marketing messages and far more likely to purchase sustainable products, even if they’re more expensive.

Parks suggested these new consumers might actually find a lot of appeal in one of the core values of credit unions: community involvement and outreach.

“We exist to better people’s lives,” she said. “If we inspire people, we have a better chance of winning their loyalty.” She noted that consumers make decisions with the emotional side of the brain.

Both presenters stressed that credit unions need to message new consumers not only with who they are and what they offer, but why it matters.

Parks and Allison offered many actionable suggestions to the marketers, including the need to proclaim their purpose.

“Cause is rewarded, and concern is punished,” Allison said.

Other noteworthy suggestions included the concept of asking consumers to be part of any changes. That means including front-line staff. If member service representatives (MSRs) can believe in the new products, they’re more likely to be successful selling them. Parks acknowledged the difficulty marketers have balancing their community values with the need to promote their products.

The New Consumer presentation also encouraged marketers to be human in their messaging, as they have honest, trustworthy brands that truly can act in consumers’ best interests.

The bottom line, Allison said, is that “You cannot tell consumers what to do anymore. Values and co-creation are motivating them. Consumers are in control.”

Editors’ note: New Consumer research, useful tools to make marketing more effective and tips to gain favorable media coverage were also covered at the Marketers’ Conference. Next week’s Anthem will include more coverage.

Questions? Comments? Contact Anthem editor Matt Halvorson:

Posted in Events, Marketing & Communications, NCUA, NWCUA.