Monday, March 19, 2012

Financial institutions should treat women differently to attract

A few weeks back I suggested in a post that banks should have a different approach towards women than towards men, due to the fact (ehum, statistic...) showing that 84 per cent of women feel misunderstood by investment marketers, according to a study by Yankelovich Monitor & Greenfield. 

Women apparently think about investing differently than men - who get that adrenaline rush with the opportunity to make great gains. Women are less risk averse and better investors. They focus on investing for the people in their lives and the future.

Also, according to ANZ Survey 2008, only 1 % of women talk about personal financial information to anyone and less than 20% feel comfortable talking about money at all.
Male and female bank customers will have different relationships with both money and their bank, and I do believe financial institutions would benefit from keeping an eye on this, and find consumer insights relevant to both markets, to meet men and women differently.

But at the same time research has proven that we behave according to stereotypes when being reminded about what “box” we fit into.

Priyanka B. Carr of Stanford University and Claude M. Steele of Columbia University have done experiments to study how women make financial decisions, when faced with negative stereotypes and when not.

Past research has shown that being faced with negative stereotypes about one's group can hamper intellectual performance, and Carr and Steele reasoned it could also affect financial decision making.

In the experiments, some volunteers were told that they would be completing tasks to measure their mathematical, logical, and rational reasoning abilities. Since the stereotype is that women aren't talented at these things, this should raise the stereotype in the volunteer's mind. To be very sure, these people were also asked to indicate their gender before doing the tasks.

Other volunteers were told that they would be working on puzzles, and were not asked their gender first.

Then, each person got to do task around financial decision-making choices. For example, in one experiment, people decided whether to choose risky but lucrative options (e.g., a 20% chance of winning four dollars) over safer but less lucrative ones (e.g., an 80% chance of winning one dollar).

When the negative stereotype about women was not hinted at, there were no gender differences in financial decision making. Both men and women were moderately risk averse and loss averse. But when the negative stereotype was brought up, gender differences emerged.

Women made more cautious financial decisions: They were more likely to forgo lucrative opportunities so they could avoid risks and losses. Interestingly, when negative stereotypes about women (and therefore positive stereotypes about men) were relevant, men became more risk seeking.

The stereotypical cues encouraged behavior that stuck to the stereotype. This suggests that earlier findings and anecdotes about differences in decision making between the sexes may actually be the result of gender stereotypes (and not the basis for them). This storyis from ScienceDaily, Nov. 17, 2010

How exactly a bank should meet their various types of customers is of course up to them to decide. I´m sure it´s not just gender that determines how a message is interpreted, but also cultural background, personality and where you are in the life cycle. I leave it to the product developers and marketers to define the details, but to simply have one type of add approaching them all is not very effective.

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