1. MARKET SITUATION
How do you attract the clients of tomorrow? For banks, it hinges on timing: banks need to attract and retain youngsters before they are 25 years old. That's the moment when they have their first income and start taking up loans, insurances, etc. Attracting clients after 25 is infinitely more difficult and expensive. In precisely this segment, ING faced some serious challenges. Since youth clients don't own any bank products other than a bank account and banking app, they are quick to leave ING and have very low loyalty levels.
In addition, ING has no specific youth offer towards the 18 to 25-year olds and is being outspent by its biggest competitor in the market. But the biggest problem of all is that young adults feel banking products are commodities. They simply don't care about banks.
For ING, these challenges led to a 15% decrease in natural acquisitions in just two years. The main objective of our campaign is the acquisition of new clients who use their bank account and ING banking app actively. In order to change the idea that banks are a commodity, we need to prove how ING can play a role in young people's lives. The ING brand should be seen as trustworthy and our campaign as differentiating from campaigns from other banks. Of course, our campaign should also reaffirm existing clients in their relationship with ING.
- Brand Insight
When advertising to a young target audience, it is very tempting to try and make your brand look cool. 'Cool' definitely is not something that comes to mind when our target audience thinks about banks. Our own research confirmed that young adults perceive big banks like ING as serious institutions. We believed we could use this serious appearance and turn it into something surprisingly positive. Being serious may sound uncool unless you can prove how seriousness translates into relevance.
- Product Insight
In order to prove the relevance of ING, we needed to start from the product. Bank products in general are formalized and seem the same at every bank. We believe ING enables people to live a life of experiences. Our strategic idea will need to find the true experience that the ING bank account enables in the lives of young adults.
- Target Audience Insight
Research taught us that youngsters define being an adult as being financially independent from their parents. Since practically all young adults have a bank account that has been set up by their parents, they can demonstrate their independence by choosing their own bank. This matches well with our insight of translating bank products into experiences: the choice of an ING bank account can grant young adults the freedom to do what they desire and to be free from their parents' supervision. Even if they aren't actually financially independent, we can make them feel like they are by turning ING into a symbol of financial independence.
- Tone of Voice Insight
18 to 25-year olds demand authenticity. This needs to be reflected in both message and tone. Our target audience would feel insulted if they feel we are talking down to them and will notice if we are trying too hard to appear cool. We should not try to talk like they do but maintain the regular, well-established tone of voice of ING.
The combination of these insights led to our strategic idea: more freedom thanks to your bank account. This way, we translate the functional benefits of a bank account into an emotional story that will resonate with our target audience. They want to see themselves as capable of taking their own financial responsibilities. ING can be there to let them do what they imagine should be possible – and otherwise keep out of their way.
The creative strategy can be summed up in the phrase 'Finalement une banque c'est pas si mal'. We understood that in order to appeal to our target audience, ING doesn't have to be cool but has to enable youngsters to live a cool life and communicate this in the most transparent way.
We also introduced an incentive for opening a bank account to trigger our target audience. Incentives have become the norm in the youth segment, with Belfius offering € 15 to open an account and Hello bank! offering € 50. Knowing we only had eight weeks to maximize our customer acquisition, we peered with the Hello bank! incentive. A condition of activating the ING Smart Banking app applied for those who wanted to receive the incentive, insuring digitally active clients.
To raise awareness on our new youth philosophy, we selected strong storytelling channels: cinema, DOOH and online video. To trigger our target audience to take action, we chose typical conversion channels such as digital radio, bannering and social ads. Since our campaign budget didn't allow for a year-long online presence and/or presence at student locations and events, we focused on a combination of five weeks in ATL and a comprehensive targeted online approach that was in place for eight weeks using 81% of our yearly budget, investing the remaining 19% in a clever always-on approach the rest of the year.
We set ING in the market not just as a provider of a bank account but as an enabler of independence. By relying on a strategy that offers value to our target audience, we had the best campaign acquisition ever.
A strong indicator of the impact of ING campaigns is measured by its campaign 'uplifts'. Campaign uplifts express the increase in natural flow caused purely by the campaign. The 2016 campaign created an uplift of 61% while our campaign created an uplift of 148%. We acquired 14% more clients than targeted and managed to surpass our objective of app activation, increasing the quality of our new clients. They even became our most active app users. We also reaffirmed the relationship current clients have with ING by decreasing our churn rate with 52% during the campaign. With our approach, we even decreased our online cost per conversion by 66%. The results for 'different than market' and 'trustworthy' also surpassed the objectives, creating a good result on the core elements that we chose as a way to deal with our challenging context.
We took a stand by choosing relevance over coolness and can safely say that for banks, clever beats cool anytime.