MADISON, Wis. (6/12/09)--If credit unions want to attract low-to moderate-income (LMI) consumers, they'll need to understand the LMI mindset about their personal finances and financial services, and appeal to their emotional side.
So says the Filene Research Institute's latest report, Does Imagery Matter: Delving into the Mind of low- to Moderate-Income Savers
. The National Credit Union Foundation provided financial support for the report by Nick Maynard, Jeff Zinsmeyer and Tim Flacke of the Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund Inc. The threat of financial crisis hangs over LMI families and colors their daily financial choices, but adequate savings can build a more promising future for them, says the report. It explores LMI consumers' response to different marketing images. Consumer Researcher Maya Bourdeau and the research team used the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET)--which elicits insights about human decision making through metaphors and storytelling--to understand attitudes of LMI households toward money and saving. The report details their findings and an "emotional involvement" continuum for marketing visuals. Even subtle imagery can strongly influence the consumer experience, said Bourdeau. For example, slow tempo music increases retail sales by as much as 35%, while timing marketing with in-branch communications creates at 10%-40% return on investments. "Consumers encounter hundreds of marketing messages each day, and this study recognizes that consumers use conscious and subconscious feelings to assess the effectiveness of these messages," said George A. Hofheimer, Filene's chief research officer. "ZMET is a useful tool for marketing professionals to tap into consumers' subconscious thoughts with compelling messages and metaphors, which can lead to more members, more savings, and a more emotionally attuned membership base." Researchers found that choosing emotionally provocative images can connect successfully with LMI consumers. They also found that the marketing can be implemented on different scales, from small to substantial, and that ZMET-based imagery may be most effective when targeted at specific segments within the LMI market. "Credit unions should consider the value of community outreach as a complement to marketing images and messages," Hofheimer said. For more information, use the resource link.