Banks are going to have to create awareness and confidence in the consumer's mind that they provide complete investment services to build secure retirement nest eggs. Those relationships take time to build.
Citibank has done an effective job advertising in the New York metropolitan area with the. positioning campaign that "Wall Street is Moving," saturating the marketplace with ads in newspapers and on radio and TV.
Citibank began developing its own proprietary mutual fund program in 1987. It now has 13 proprietary mutual funds and offers 600 other choices from a third-party provider.
The major brokerage firms and insurance companies are better positioned in consumers' minds as the place to help people satisfy their insatiable need to learn how to build growing investment portfolios.
These firms provide everything from well-trained licensed brokers, to consumer software programs, to ongoing seminars. They have been educating and informing their customer base with free literature, how-to articles in newspapers and face-toface meetings with brokers.
Marketing through Education
One major brokerage firm that has profited by doing a successful marketing campaign through education to reach potential customers is Prudential Securities.
According to Steve Samuels, vice president of marketing, the Life Phases seminar series for retirement planning and the program designed for women has been rated extremely high by prospects attending the series and has gained favorable publicity as well.
Mark Cooper, president and chief operating officer for DenMark Financial Services says:
"Today's banks are moving from a net-interest-margin business to a fee4ncome business where there are financial advantages, and also many pitfalls.
"Bank marketers must now become lifestyle managers. That means becoming an invaluable resource to customers by providing information on financial and retirement planning; housing, insurance, taxes, Social Security, and long-term care.
"By becoming lifestyle managers for the mature market, financial institutions will increase their profits and provide peace of mind for their customers both financially and emotionally."
What we knew, or thought we knew about the mature market has changed dramatically during the last five years. The consumer and the economy are in constant change. That means stereotypes that we bought into about an aging society will constantly have to be monitored.
Identifying programs as "specially designed" for oMer people often turns off many consumers. That is why Bane One changed its mature market program name from Senior Champs to Classic One. Seniors do not like being labeled as seniors.
David Wolfe, a consumer behavior specialist and author of the soon-to-be-published book "Virtual Marketing" writes:
"Psychologists say our egos inform us of our uniqueness. Despite that, marketers insist that each of us fits into a box of near lookalikes numbering thousands or even millions.
"Now it appears the ego is getting the upper hand. Niche marketing has reached the end of its development potential and is declining in effectiveness.
"As difficult as it may be to imagine, marketing in the future will generally be less, not more dependent on niche-defined strategies."
'Segments of One'
There are several factors contributing to the effectiveness of age-driven profiles and one of the largest is new technology that will make it possible to segment absolutely. As Mr. Wolfe says, "It will be possible reach each of us as segments of one."
Since the median age in America today is 43, our society is becoming patternless.
Stay on Your Toes
According to Mr. Wolfe, success in middle-aged and older markets involves strategies, techniques, and even language patterns significantly different from those used in targeting younger consumers, because the mind processes information differently beginning around the onset of middle age.
Bank researchers and marketers must constantly monitor the changes that are taking place with the aging marketplace. What worked five years ago to reach customers age 50 and over may not work today, and certainly will be outdated tomorrow.
The club account, for example, is undergoing a great deal of change, including abandoning an age requirement. The more money kept in various accounts at the bank usually means the customer is older.
The other change appears to be a departure from nonfinancial services to more education and how-to information.
The surest way to have a successful package account that rewards customers for their business is to listen to them, no matter what age. They know you are in the business to make money. They are interested in watching their money grow so they can have a secure retirement.
The financial marketplace is confusing and changing. If you help your customers stay informed and educated, they will reward you with their business.