Magazine article American Banker

Big Banks Call Tailored Products, Targeted Ads Path to Young

Magazine article American Banker

Big Banks Call Tailored Products, Targeted Ads Path to Young

Article excerpt

Bankers say they constantly strive to reach the younger generation and that targeted advertisements and products are among the methods they employ.

"We tend to think about generational groups as we deploy media and advertising, and use those outlets that target certain groups,'' said Gene Kirby, the head of retail banking at SunTrust Banks Inc. in Atlanta. For example, it runs ads on radio stations aimed at young listeners.

Bank of America Corp. in Charlotte follows a similar strategy, running different ads for each age group, "whether that's online or through direct mail or our banking center channel,'' said Diane Green, a spokeswoman.

Choosing the right products to advertise is also important. B of A, for example, recently said that it plans to increase its student lending capabilities as way to reel in younger customers.

"There's a lot of product stuff related to age,'' said Richard Hartnack, a vice chairman and the head of retail banking at U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis. For example, "22-year-olds aren't exactly big contributors to IRAs, or big users of investments. They're not using home equity loans; they're not using home mortgages. They're more in the 'eat, drink and be merry' stage of life," he said.

With this in mind, Mr. Hartnack said, U.S. Bancorp is likely to accept a lower level of service at branches near colleges, where students do not often visit tellers or financial advisers. But the company is leery of letting service fall dramatically. "No channel is perfectly generationally cut, for sure,'' he said. "We don't know, on any given day,'' who is going to visit a branch.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. recently found that 68% of its customers visit a branch about once every three months, so the New York company has renovated and expanded them. It is also wooing younger customers with focused advertising. "If you go back three or four years ago, we were not a very good retailer across any age group,'' said Thomas Kelly, a company spokesman. …

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