Awareness Campaign Pays Dividends In Nevada

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The second year of an awareness campaign being backed by credit unions in Northern Nevada is paying dividends beyond projections.

The cooperative campaign, designed to "shift positive public perceptions of financial institutions away from banks and toward credit unions, and increase the number of consumers who would consider joining a credit union" is working, according to a survey of consumers in the market. The survey found the percentage of consumers who are not currently members of a credit union, but who said they would consider joining one, increased compared to an initial survey taken in 2000, from 25% in 2000 to 39% in 2003.

"In another key area, consumers now associate positive characteristics much more readily with credit unions, and their perceptions of the services offered by credit unions-as compared to those available at banks-shifted significantly," reported the California/Nevada league. "For example, the number of consumers who associate attributes such as 'returning earnings to users' and 'low loan rates' with credit unions has more than tripled since 2000."

The survey further found that attributes such as "low/no fees for service," "treating you as a valued customer," and "being honest and trustworthy" have all moved from being more closely associated with banks in 2000 to being more closely associated with credit unions in 2003.

The survey was funded by the participating Nevada credit unions and is adapted from a "benchmark" study from August 2000 to specifically target the messages contained in the advertisements.

"Consumers first need to be thinking about credit unions before they'll make the move toward using credit union services" said Dennis Flannigan, EVP with Great Basin FCU in Reno. "That's exactly the effect we want to achieve at this stage of the campaign."

The survey found that about 50% of northern Nevada residents recalled seeing an advertisement promoting overall awareness of credit unions. Although the campaign employed a mix of television, radio and print media during 2002 and 2003, television was identified as the most popular medium by 82% of respondents. Television as a source of general awareness of credit unions has increased every year of the campaign.

The campaign alternated use of the national credit union brand "Public Education," "Comfort Zone," and "Switch" series of advertisements. The campaign was funded and coordinated by nine Nevada credit unions, in partnership with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

The nine participating credit unions in the northern Nevada campaign, including two headquartered in Las Vegas that have branches in northern Nevada, are E W #401 Credit Union, Reno; Great Basin Federal Credit Union, Reno; Greater Nevada CU, Carson City; Nevada FCU, Las Vegas; Sierra Pacific FCU, Reno; Sierra Schools CU, Reno; SP Sparks Employees FCU, Sparks; Washoe CU, Reno; and WestStar CU, Las Vegas.

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