In today’s high-inflation environment, financial institutions are especially challenged with helping consumers navigate the ups and downs. More than 1 in 3 adults say the national economy is a source of anxiety.1 Many worry about a looming recession, and the reality is that in today’s economic climate, a lost job or unexpected expense could push too many Americans into a precarious financial position.2 This is where financial institutions must tap into the power of human connection—using marketing strategies that show empathy and understanding of what their clients may be experiencing, combined with confidence-building support and solutions.
Below are some themes financial institutions can build into their marketing to help boost their response during times of economic uncertainty:
Leverage customer insights to better understand needs
The foundation of understanding customer needs lies in collecting and analyzing real data. According to Forbes, “real-time data—such as purchases, transactions, spending, reviews, repurchase information or consumer sentiment—can all be used to better understand shifts in consumer behavior and preferences during a crisis and allow you to adjust your offering or portfolio accordingly.”3
Empathize with consumer experience
According to Accenture, “as consumers’ distress increases, so does the need for empathy.”4 Financial institutions should tailor their marketing to present themselves as empathetic, genuine, and understanding of their clients’ unique challenges and needs. In fact, according to a study conducted by Accenture, “Empathetic Banking Leaders—those with strong capabilities for understanding and responding appropriately to the emotional state of their customers—outperformed their peers financially.”4 By showing a genuine interest into clients’ economic realities, institutions can build long-lasting connections and relationships.
Remain “human” in communication
As automation and artificial intelligence are reshaping industries, it’s imperative for the financial services industry to remain “human.” A popular strategy is utilizing social media channels to connect with consumers. One financial services company ran a Twitter campaign that promoted a live discussion event to educate clients on topics related to inflation. This created a virtual community where people could feel less isolated in their confusion surrounding the economy. By establishing a forum for like-minded people to connect, the company hoped to make participants feel reassured and comfortable with the brand.5
Emphasize the value of having a plan for saving and investing
During inflationary periods, consumers often worry that the value of their money will decline, and that their financial goals may be at risk. This can make saving and investing more complicated—and financial institutions should tailor their marketing messages to highlight the long-term benefits of establishing a plan. Institutions can also offer promotions or incentives tied to long-term savings goals, which can encourage customers to take proactive steps to protect their financial well-being.
Provide education and guidance
Consumers are more likely to be financially conscious and seek information to make informed decisions during times of high inflation. Based on a report by CompereMedia, consumers look to brands for guidance in tough times. “Through education and conversation, brands that lead individuals through the struggle of rising prices and threat of recession will create long lasting relationships with its consumers.”5 For example, a leading global investment firm shared a guide on their Twitter page that gave an in-depth definition of recession, its impact on the past few decades, and a positive outlook moving forward. By giving information and reassurance to clients during times of uncertainty, financial institutions can position themselves as trusted confidants.
Offer beneficial products or solutions
In times of inflation, understanding which financial products are most attractive and helpful to consumers is important. For example, there are some inflation-resistant investment options available that hold up well through economic fluctuations—such as commodities, inflation-indexed bonds, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), etc.6 Presenting these offerings as potential solutions to a client’s worries can help build confidence and brand loyalty.
Financial institutions face unique challenges during times of high inflation—requiring strategic and thoughtful marketing approaches. By prioritizing human and client-centric strategies, financial institutions can not only weather the storms but also be trusted partners in their clients’ financial journeys. The key lies in proactively addressing customer concerns and providing solutions that align with the realities of an inflationary environment.
1 “For many, their personal finances are a source of major stress.” The Associated Press and NORC, March 2023. https://apnorc.org/projects/for-many-their-personal-finances-are-a-source-of-major-stress/.
2 Walsh, Colin. “How Banks Can Support Customers Amid Inflation Woes.” Forbes, August 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2023/08/01/how-banks-can-support-customers-amid-inflation-woes/?sh=2a0d6cc02b13.
3 Schwarz, Rafael. “Marketing Strategies For Times of Inflation.” Forbes, October 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/10/19/marketing-strategies-for-times-of-inflation/?sh=752ea9417903.
4 “Banking on empathy.” Accenture, 2021. https://www.accenture.com/content/dam/accenture/final/industry/banking/document/Accenture-Banking-Empathy.pdf.
6 Smith, Lisa. “How to Profit From Inflation.” Investopedia, August 2023. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/080813/how-profit-inflation.asp#:~:text=Several%20asset%20classes%20perform%20well,indexed%20bonds%2C%20and%20securitized%20debt.
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