For the most part, all light beers taste the same. And, in seeing their advertisements, all focus on the “taste” and low calories. None tap into the emotional connection they have with consumers. They all try to cater to a vast audience, as evidenced in their commercials featuring men and women of various ages.
In my opinion, that is similar to credit unions, and one of the reasons why credit unions are still growing marginally – we’re all trying to be the same! In reading a survey by the Vivaldi Partners on social currency that compared brands of beer, I saw a synergy between strong loyalty and niche brands. To expound upon this even further, I think it is safe to say that polarizing products – ones people either love or hate – are the brands cultivating the most loyalty among its consumers and experiencing the most growth.
The Yuenglings and the Sam Adams’ are the ones with the strongest brand loyalty. To relate this back to credit unions, the ones with the strongest definition of who they serve are the ones experiencing the most success across the board: loan growth, deposit growth, member growth, and profitability. Those credit unions have clearly defined that they best serve a particular group of people, and they never stray away from that model.
In an effort to survive the post-90’s membership plunge, credit unions tried to be everything to everyone. “We serve anyone in the area.” Yes, that is technically true. You can serve everyone in that area. But – do you really want to? Or do you want to serve a specific group of people better than any other financial institution? You can serve the whole moderately well, or do a fantastic job serving niche markets.
The choice: you can have a smaller group of people who love you and will tell anyone and everyone about how great you are, or you can have a group of less-loyal members who don’t see any difference between you and the bank down the street. Yuengling, anyone?