“Lifestyle” bank, a new way to stand out?

Just like the biggest brands, banks have the opportunity to retain customers. To do this, they must adapt their approach to meet their changing expectations.

In the eyes of consumers, the biggest brands are an integral part of our lifestyles. Apple’s brand loyalty reached an all-time high of 92% thanks to exceptional and personalized customer experience (SellCell 2021 report).

From this loyalty stems a strong sense of identity for the brand and the customers who have become its greatest ambassadors. Banks and fintech companies, much like emerging tech startups, have the opportunity to gain attention through a community of active followers. To do this, they must understand the younger generations in order to stand out, entice and retain.

The younger generations are folding their papers

The younger generations prioritize expressing their personality through all consumer products, and Generation Z is the first to be made entirely of digital natives. The rise of influencer marketing partially explains the reason for the rapid growth of lifestyle brands and products. While advertising and home shopping defined the era before social media, influencers are shaping the buying decisions of the next generation. This market of €2 billion in 2016 has grown to €15.2 billion this year.

It is therefore not surprising that the financial world is seeking to exploit this trend. The Apple trademark expert even ventured there with a titanium credit card. Marketed as one of a kind, it allows consumers to differentiate themselves in their lifestyle. With customer experience at the core of these strategies, how can banks and financial firms venture into lifestyle banking?

The design has been redesigned with the logic of effect

In the UK, Monzo was one of the first banks whose services are only available on a mobile app. In their quest to disrupt the established market for mainstream banking, the company has created a bank card in neon and coral colors giving it a distinctive look. The bank’s head of design, Hugo Cornejo, described it as an intentional move to capture people’s attention and create discussion when using it to make purchases.

Knowledge of consumer motivations will allow banks and financial companies to choose a design that can reflect uniqueness, innovation or sustainable practices for clients who wish to support environmentally responsible initiatives. The metal card, for example, stands up to fast-paced lifestyles and is defined by its longevity and ultra-sleek design. “Eco-labels” made from bioplastics, plastic 100% recycled from the ocean, have also resonated with eco-conscious consumers. In 2020, 73% of Generation Z consumers were willing to pay more for sustainable products (First Insight Report).

Digital, a new fundamental aspect of brand strategy

Besides design, communication with consumers is essential, and social networks are now a major tool for talking to young clients. The launch of American digital bank Step on TikTok was promoted by influencer Charli D’Amelio and earned endorsements from celebrities such as rapper Nas. For younger consumers who are not interested in finance, embracing these means of communication and harnessing the power of influencers will help spark their interest.

Digital applications enable powerful online experiences in an embedded phygital approach where digital and physical experiences come together. It allows customers to choose when, where and how they want to access their banking services.

Take a holistic approach

To be able to create a “lifestyle” brand, banks must understand their customers to improve the user experience. The key to achieving this is a holistic approach: for example, customer insights can help understand their tastes and motivations. Building a strong image, targeted products, and using relevant personalities will position banks and fintechs in powerful positions to spark consumer curiosity and ensure long-term loyalty.

Successful banks are those that care and understand what their customers want. They speak their language, target them through their preferred communication channels, and create products and services specifically for them. The result is a solid brand identity that is instantly remembered and recognized in the banking market.

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