FINANCIAL SERVICES MARKET RESEARCH AGENCY
How to conduct Market Research in the Financial Services industry
Consumer attitudes to financial service products are changing, driven by the emergence of new competitors in the market and the significant impact changes in technology are having on how we engage with money more broadly. This disruption to the traditional landscape has given consumers more choice than they have ever had and is making it increasingly easy to access alternatives.
The advent of open banking rules and the ability for consumers to take their data with them as they shop for better products and services will continue the erosion to the concept of ‘main financial institution’ which in turn will change the way banks talk to and engage with consumers.
The financial services industry needs market research that focuses on why and how consumers can and will choose a bank, or many banks, in the future. Traditional measures tracking awareness, satisfaction and NPS will become less salient in a market where consumers understanding that it is not as hard as it once was to change financial service providers and where they can easily shop around for the services they want.
There is a distinct generational divide in these changing attitudes to financial services.
- Most Boomers still use banks in a relatively traditional fashion, relying on an microfinance institutions (MFI) for core products and services.
- Younger generations, however, are more interested in online services and apps where flexibility is more important than established stability and each product is selected based on its value and suitability rather than who the provider is.
In this rapidly evolving market, research is an important foundation stone. Beyond measuring customer satisfaction, it is a key tool in understanding customer loyalty and sentiment, journey and repertoire, product innovation and UX. The right research will help you to understand why and how current, potential and lapsed customers engage not just with your brand but with other financial institutions and service providers and support you to build a full understanding of what is an increasing complex consumer market.
To meet the challenges of a market that is more fragmented and more dynamic, financial services must borrow research tools and strategies from FMCG and Technology markets. They must address the increasingly fluid nature of financial services decisions made by consumers and the rapidly evolving technology that allows this.
Using techniques like mobile qualitative research and video ethnographies, alongside focus groups, in depth interviews and a range of rapid response quantitative survey types will provide greater agility and responsiveness to the changing attitudes and motivations of consumers.
Historically, financial services providers have relied more heavily on large scale quantitative surveys to track awareness, satisfaction, main financial institution (MFI), advertising, etc.
All of these are valuable metrics that should be tracked. However, they are reactive measures and do not lend themselves to supporting quick product development cycles, responding proactively to changes in the market landscape or moving to address shifts in consumer sentiment.
What is needed here is a combination of agile qual and rapid response quant using a range of available and emerging technologies in areas like social listening platforms, apps and chatbots, market research insight communities and micro surveys.
- Agile Qualitative Research: To get fast impressions and understand GUT FEEL as opposed to lengthy deliberation of ideas, concepts and prototypes. The goal is to deliver quick feedback on raw ideas, offers, benefits or messages allowing a quick initial assessment of how well they resonate with current or prospective customers and, importantly, how a customer is likely to respond to them. Quick ‘wash up’ reporting gives almost immediate feedback that can be used to develop the concepts being tested quickly as they move along in rapid succession sprints. Agile qual comes in several forms including depth interviews and short, single topic focus groups, leveraging online technology to find and engage the right people more quickly than traditional means might allow.
- Rapid Response Quantitative Research: Rapid response surveys are short and to the point. They are intended to be focused on a very limited range of topics and are intended to be device agnostic allowing convenient response for the user.
- Micro Surveys: Micro surveys are just that, short simple 2-5 question surveys that can be conducted with consumers on the run. Mobile or app-based technology means that the survey can be conducted with minimal interference and maximum impact in busy lives.
- Chat Bots: Using a chat bot as part of a website or integrated into an app allows a consumer to answer questions relevant to the task they are currently performing, at the time they are engaged rather than as a follow-up day or weeks later. Like micro surveys, using a chat bot must be short and to the point so as not to interfere with the task as user is trying to accomplish.
- Social Listening and Text Analytics: Look at qualitative data from a variety of sources including social media, online reviews and direct customer feedback in a quantitative way. Unlike traditional recruitment, this technique allows you to analyses open ended data from reviews, surveys or data already collected in house (as opposed to views from people on research panels) to determine and size what emotions are felt. It also helps to identify contradictions in expressions, uncovering consumer tensions and opportunities for improvements.
- Jobs To Be Done Frameworks: To understand the higher purpose for which customers buy rather than the product or service. For example, they want to hang a picture not hammer a nail into the wall. Consumers are loyal to the job to be done, not the solution they use. The framework is predicated on knowing what the job the customer wants to achieve is and how we can help them RATHER than focusing on what they want to buy. This is an agile approach: we need a phase up front to define the market, uncover needs, and then quantify or verify where needs are being underserved or overserved. That’s where we can discover opportunities and produce a solution that wins in market.
Financial market research is research that focuses on financial products, services, and businesses. It could include research with consumers, businesses, intermediaries, or stakeholders.
Ruby Cha Cha is a financial market research company based in Sydney. We offer B2B market research and B2C market research to large corporations such as banks, insurance companies, brokers, lenders, and financial government entities but we also work with smaller players such as building societies, community banks and we have an increasing business in cryptocurrency, FinTech’s and newer financial business models.
The typical areas that Ruby Cha Cha deals with as a financial services market research agency are:
- Launching a new product or service – product, service, communications
- Understanding ‘who is my customer.’
- Product and Service Development and Concept Testing
- Advertising Development and Testing
- Net Promotor Score (NPS) and performance monitoring
- Brand Health
- Brand Positioning and Development
- Customer Segmentation and Profiling
- Customer Experience Research (Voice of the Customer)
- Customer Journey Mapping and Touchpoint Research
- PDS comprehension testing
- Market attitudes and behaviours
- Use of new technologies, platforms, and channels.
At Ruby Cha Cha we use qualitative and quantitative research tools to help crack the nut of financial business problems. We also use ethnography and online communities to help understand finance behaviours and overcome biases in self report. We use focus groups to discuss and debate ideas, communications and explore needs. We have specialty tools to help us understand comprehension of consumer information leaflets, and so much more.
Some examples of financial market research that Ruby Cha Cha has performed include:
- Helping a new FinTech understand its market, its customer and how to shape a compelling offer for launch.
- Consumer PDS comprehension studies to ensure all information complied with regulatory changes.
- Qualitative and quantitative research to investigate wealth management needs to develop targeted propositions.
- Wholesale superannuation stakeholder management research to understand how a business could improve their service delivery.
- Customer experience research with a community bank
- Brand development and positioning research to refresh a property business in a fast-changing marketplace.
- Ad testing for a new consumer payment provider her and in the US.
The impact of technological disruption, (blockchain, AI, QR codes) alongside an increasing number of new products and services and business models being offered to consumers means there has been significant impact on the way customers engage with financial entities.
Businesses based on financial services need to compete for customer share in a fragmented market as well as managing growth, decline, regulatory impacts, and increasingly savvy customer expectations. This means the need for financial services market research is critical to provide everything from profiling of consumers and customers, to needs and gap analysis, performance tracking and behavioural observation to improve relevance and meet consumer needs.
Customer experience is another key trend. Many B2B businesses rely on customer experience and voice of the customer (VOC) research to tap into sentiment and changing needs.
There is an increasing need because of the Royal Commission into Banking for mandatory improvements to consumer knowledge in Australia. Clients in banking, insurance, superannuation etc., need to understand how consumers are reading our communications and that these are written in plain English. Market research can assist with PDS comprehension studies and in-depth interviews to understand how consumers interpret product and services information.
The impact of FinTech means the consumer can be ahead of big financial institutions in the way that they want to pay for goods and services, how they want to bank, what insurance makes sense to them and how they evaluate things that are important to them in a company – like sustainability, corporate responsibility, and sources of wealth creation.
Financial market research can be B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to customer) and many of the core types of problems can be like other industry research – such as understanding who the customer is, how to position a brand competitively, and pricing elasticity.
Where it differs is typically around the need for knowledge of business and financial entities such as banking and insurance product and services, brokerage and intermediaries, regulatory issues, stakeholder management and technological development.
NPS is a key metric used for advocacy of services and NPS tracking often sits alongside brand tracking to provide a snapshot of customer sentiment.
Many large corporates also have access to big data and analytics and the financial market research they require may be qualitative – to bring the ‘why’ question to life and flesh out the understanding of patterns of customer behaviour – or ad hoc quantitative to provide more specific investigations.
Some financial market research is available through syndicated sources, such as those that provide market share data on key geographical markets and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.