At their annual ThinkBanking event last Thursday (Sept 9th) in Sydney, the Google Financial Services Team released their latest behavioral research supported by Global Reviews' Customer Experience Benchmarking. The results are a shock to those expecting traditional marketing methods to strongly influence customer behavior in respect to product selection in the financial services space. Barney Pierce, the Head of Industry - Finance for Google in Australia articulated that the research "shows a fundamental shift toward the online channel dominating research for financial products and services. A large part of which is search related activity."
Greg Muller and his team at Global Reviews who assisted with collecting the research explained that the research was conducted across Australia with a sample size of over 900 people from all walks of life - it was directed at all users of financial services products. In the research customers were simply asked to find either a deposit product, a credit card, or a mortgage and report back on the process they used to find and select a product.
The data shows a significant shift in behaviour when it comes to the selection process. Traditional marketing theory suggests that brand marketing and campaign marketing are strong influencers of behaviour when customers are selecting products, but this most recent data flies in the face of accepted theory. 51% of customers had a preferred brand when they started, but of those that used search to attack the task, 58% didn't search for their preferred brand. Of those that started with a preferred brand 1/3rd (31%) ended up selecting a different brand.
The research shows that for poor usability was the primary reason that customers would abandon a website and pick a competitors brand online. The highest % of customers who stay with online throughout are the $100k+ p.a income bracket, in fact, 82% of High Income customers total research is done online today and 74% of these indicate they would prefer to apply online for deposits & credit cards.
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