Finance marketers could be perpetuating gender myths and imbalances: study

Marketers working with finance and banking brands could be out of step with consumers in their perceptions of gender, a new study has revealed.

A study by Yell Creative, presented today at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit, shows marketers in the space appear to disproportionately think consumers trust males ahead of their female counterparts, and are also failing to accurately represent consumers in their campaigns. 

The research was done in conjunction with Ipsos and surveyed 1,500 financial services customers and over 250 senior finance marketers. There were 31 questions for marketers and 10 for consumers.

Consumers, according to the survey, see little difference between males and females working in the space and what they can offer.

Marketers believe there is more of a gender divide than consumers do, according to the survey

Consumers in the survey were asked “When thinking about a financial services professional, which gender would you trust the most?”

78% of consumers said the genders were equally trusted, while 12% preferenced males and 10% said females.

Just 54% of marketers, however, said the genders stood on equal footing in terms of trust, and 25% said males would be perceived as more trustworthy. 21% of marketers said females would be perceived as the more trustworthy gender.

When female marketers were separated out, the numbers were even more skewed.

Only 51% of female marketers believed consumers would trust the genders equally, while 29% thought consumers would preference males, and 20% predicted females would be the preference.

How consumers responded vs how female marketers believed they would respond

This gender-imbalanced trend was further demonstrated when consumers and marketers were asked: “Thinking about financial services professionals, which gender do you think would be more capable to deliver better outcomes for you?”

82% of consumers were not phased, saying the genders are equally capable of delivering good outcomes. 10% said males would be more capable, and 8% put females ahead.

Marketers, however, perceived there was more of a gender divide, with only 59% saying there would be a comparable outcome between the two. 37% of marketers preferenced males, while just 3% said females.

Given that 69% of survey respondents were female, the findings led Nigel Roberts, CEO of Yell, to ask if in fact women in financial services are perpetuating gender myths.

Are female marketers inadvertently perpetuating gender myths?

The good news though, he said, was that consumers do not perceive the gender divide to be as extreme as marketers do, so marketers have room to evolve their campaigns to reflect their consumers’ perceptions.

In addition, 66.67% of marketers said their organisation’s top marketer was a female, with the remaining 33.3% being male.

The survey also revealed banking and financial services brands need to do more to reflect their actual customers, with just 1.90% of consumers saying they feel the sector’s marketing generally represents them in terms of gender, age, race and orientation.

10.5% said they felt represented “to a large extent”, however 59.6% said they were only represented “to some extent” and 28% said they were not reflected in brands’ marketing efforts at all.

28% of consumers feel financial services marketing does not reflect their identity at all

The Yell Creative and Ipsos Survey also found marketers are overestimating what percentage of consumers ‘completely’ trust their brands.

Only 2% of consumers agreed with the statement “I feel that financial services companies understand my needs”, but 18.18% of marketers said “We’re completely customer-centric – the customer is at the heart of everything we do”. 

Roberts said the results around consumers’ trust of banking brands follow the continued scandals and revelations of wrongdoing at the Royal Commission.

“This year’s results showed an acceleration in the gradual erosion of consumer trust that’s still not being recognised by the industry as a whole,” he said. “The question is whether there will be a significant commercial impact as new entrants emerge that don’t carry the stigma of some of the established players.

“We’ve seen the big four shifting away from wealth services ahead of and during the Royal Commission, maybe in anticipation of any potential findings, but the question is, will it be enough to protect them from the emergence of neo-banks and other viable alternatives in Australia?”

Banks and financial advisors have taken a hit when it comes to consumer trust

The challenge for brands in the sector, he said, was to halt the decline in consumer trust.

“The challenge or all of financial services and especially the banking sector is to halt the slide in trust, or face real consequences,” he said. “This can be achieved, but will involve much greater empathy and delivering solutions that truly meet customer needs, rather than meeting sales targets. The shift away from pushing product requires more than just having a view on the vast quantities of data being collected, it needs a human-centred approach as well.”


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