Financial services industry’s brand intimacy struggles continue

by | Apr 27, 2021 | Marketing, Public Relations

The financial services industry continues to have a hard time building connections with the public, ranking ninth out of the 10 industries studied in the Brand Intimacy COVID Study from marketing intimacy agency MBLM. However, the industry is showing improved performance during COVID, with new entrant USAA landing the first-place position in the industry, followed by PayPal and Bank of America.

The remaining brands in the top 10 for the industry are: American Express, TD Bank, Chase, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, Visa and CapitalOne. Additionally, according to the study, intimate brands continue to significantly outperform the leading brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 indices across revenue growth, profit growth and stock price.

Financial services industry’s brand intimacy struggles continue

While the industry is among the lowest ranked industries, it is notable that financial services brands have improved their percentage of customers in some form of intimate relationship by 24 percent since the previous study. Additionally, the percent of customers in sharing, the earliest stage of Brand Intimacy, increased by 41 percent, suggesting more users formed an emotional connection.

Many financial services brands have also focused on helping consumers during the pandemic. Number one brand USAA is offering auto and property insurance assistance, payment assistant programs, and life and health insurance support, among others (USAA’s Webpage: Coronavirus Financial Assistance). The company has also donated more than $47 million to help military families and local communities impacted by the pandemic (USAA’s Webpage: USAA’s Coronavirus Response: Supporting Our Communities).  In December 2020, PayPal announced an additional $5 million grant program for black-owned businesses, extending its previous $530 million commitment to support businesses during the pandemic (PayPal’s Press Release: PayPal Announces $530 Million Commitment to Support Black Businesses, Strengthen Minority Communities and Fight Economic Inequality). Bank of America announced a $100 million commitment to offer food and medical supply assistance to local communities in April 2020 (Bank of America’s Webpage: Meeting the needs of local communities impacted by this health and humanitarian crisis).

“With the pandemic causing financial hardships for a large portion of Americans, many financial services brands have tried to provide important relief services during the past year. We think these brands have the opportunity to leverage the stronger bonds that they have built with consumers and focus on further increasing their emotional connections,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, in a news release.

Additional significant financial services industry findings include:

  • The industry has an average Brand Intimacy Quotient of 27.9, below the cross-industry average of 38.1
  • However, the industry average is up 15 percent compared to MBLM’s previous study
  • Bank of America is the top brand for men, replacing PayPal, while women prefer USAA
  • Consumer preference for Bank of America has increased, while preference for Visa, CapitalOne and Citi has decreased
  • Daily usage increased by 19 percent, indicating that more Americans have been dealing with financial services brands more frequently during the pandemic

In addition, MBLM released an article analyzing the industry, entitled, “Who’s Paying It Forward? The evolving role of financial services brands during the pandemic.” The piece provides an overview of the financial services industry findings of the study. It also includes a language analysis of five brands, looking at how they themselves have behaved and communicated during the pandemic.

The study analyzes brands based on emotional connections during the pandemic Brand Intimacy is defined as the emotional science behind the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.

To view the financial services industry findings, please click here and to download the industry report, click here. To download the main Brand Intimacy COVID Study report or explore the Rankings, click here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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