With the use of digital money management tools on the rise, Nurun, with the guidance of anthropologists in the Nurun Lab, undertook an extensive ethnographic study on the relationship that exists between people and money in 2012-13.
Why such a study?
Nurun has always believed that digital can help brands solve their customers’ problems and respond to both articulated and unarticulated needs. To kick-start our creativity, we developed a study using a human-centered methodology, of which ethnography was the centrepiece.
The Nurun Lab team, based in Montreal, worked on this study with the Madrid and Paris offices in an effort to generate not only local, but also multicultural insights into the kinds of relationships that people have with money. Our first objective was to establish the criteria that would be used to select participants for the study. The goal: to identify those who would be most likely to provide provocative and stimulating ideas.
To support this first objective we built a core segmentation, which included the relevant criteria outlined in the following diagram:
While we were planning the ethnographic portion of the study, we also compiled a benchmark of remarkable innovations in the financial field. The intent of this parallel effort was to gain a better understanding of how the market is responding to the problems faced by consumers today, or at least to the problems that they perceive consumers are facing. One of the most surprising elements of this research was the range and vitality of small players at the forefront of innovation in this field. One might have thought that the barriers to entry in this field were too high for start-up enterprises, resulting in the domination of big players. We were pleased, for the field and for the potential of Nurun to break into this area, that this was not the case.
Returning to the ethnography, the Montreal, Madrid, and Paris teams each searched for people who represented as many of the criteria outlined in the core segmentation as possible, balancing between extreme and “normal” values. Each informant then received a diary in which they were asked to track their spending and saving, wants and needs. This diary became the foundation for the next step of the fieldwork.
Our next step was to conduct in-depth, ethnographic interviews, which in turn allowed the Lab to build detailed profiles of each participant organized around their relationship with money. These portraits highlighted the wide range of our informants: from an internationally recognized architect in Madrid and a single mother running from a bad credit history in Montreal to a young dentist starting her own practice in Paris and an elderly woman in Madrid, these were just a few.
The three teams of ethnographers met for a workshop to share their findings and discuss the portraits of the informants. This collaboration led the team as a whole to articulate a set of shared insights. The insights uncovered a tension between the initial role that money plays to facilitate social relationships and foster freedom, and the growing sense that people are losing control over the money in their lives.
Back in Montreal the Lab team revisited these insights and organized them into three groups:
To lay the foundation for the workshop, the Lab analyzed how these three groups of insights fit together. We developed a cultural and behavioural model that visually articulates how people’s emotions towards money connect with their social and relational views on money. In essence, this model tells the story of how people across three countries are dealing with and managing their money.
Our team of experts, including an anthropologist, a strategic planner, a banking expert, an IT specialist, a user experience expert and the Lab team, convened for a two-day brainstorming session. The first day was devoted to generating “magic;” brainstormers were encouraged to think outside the box as they developed solutions for the ethnographic informants they had come to know through each of the portraits. The goal was to generate solutions that would seemingly magically address the needs of the informants. The result was a set of provocative ideas around how to provide consumers, not only with financial management tools, but more importantly with the tools that would enable them to manage their money from an emotional perspective as well.
On the second day the team voted for their three favourite insight areas from day one. Lab facilitators then introduced a series of constraints into the brainstorming process, looking to see how the insights from the first day would be affected if put through the prism of the following three ideas:
Day two of our highly organized brainstorming session also yielded a wide range of ideas. From the somewhat far fetched yet provocatively stimulating ideas of day one, we moved to a more concrete set of ideas. While still trying to help consumers control their emotional relationship with money, we focused more on how power can be transferred from the banks back to the consumers.
To bring the project to a close, we voted to start sketching one idea generated by the workshop. The clear winner for all the participants was the notion of a “Smarter Wallet.” This idea most clearly connected the positive emotions associated with the social realm of money – its ability to help us learn and to actualize who we are in our societies, communities and families – while correcting the more negative emotions associated with how financial institutions make people feel anxious, isolated and out of control.
Our process was one of the greatest successes of the workshop. It enabled us to bring our far-reaching ideas together with more practical notions, resulting in a series of sketches that truly addressed the participants’ needs. We didn’t lose the innovation and creativity inspired by the ethnography and the workshop, rather we successfully channeled it into a workable and marketable idea.
Some might say that the sketches for our app share elements of Mint, or even Google Wallet, but we believe that it takes an important step further. The Smarter Wallet gives consumers the ability to not only manage their money, but to become aware of and manage their emotions towards money as well. It also brings back the notion that our banking habits are social, allowing the wallet to be shared by family, friends and communities. In the process, our sketched app became a tool that educates and binds people together. After all, it is our money that allows us to come together with the important people in our lives to make an often impersonal world much more meaningful.
The Nurun Lab is working on an ethnographic study about people’s relationship to money. At the Lab, we believe that the best insights come from human reactions, so as a side project we put together a prototype of a bill payment gadget to gather user feedback. The Bill Manager was built in response to a perceived void in the marketplace. Currently, there is no device that marries the practicality of automatic payments with the reassurance and sense of control that comes with making manual payments.
What do you think? Would you ever use such a device? And if so, where?
In June 2011, BBVA launched its first mobile banking application for the iPhone. Nurun took part in the project by launching a website designed as a user assistance portal, publishing related content and centralizing the BBVA mobile banking services.
Since then, more than a year has passed and the world of mobile banking propelled by BBVA has continued to evolve along with the website itself. The application has been updated and adapted to the interests both of the smartphone user and of mobile banking. During this time, the market has witnessed the launch of native applications for Android, iPad, BlackBerrry and WindowsPhone.
Likewise, the website experienced a parallel evolution. New pages have been added to each of the native applications. The site has been a constant reference point for communications, PR, SEO and web traffic campaigns, and in the process has achieved top rankings in searches for terms such as “mobile banking.”
In many cases, the microsites that usually accompany this type of launch, campaign, or marketing action, are destined for oblivion once the original campaign has run its course. They are neither reused nor brought up to date, and in some cases, rather than renewing the domain, are left to expire along with all the results generated by the microsite: back links, web mentions, organic traffic, offline references, etc. Visibility which, left unattended, is all to no avail.
For this reason, we must not forget that every domain, however limited its function, should always be part of our online strategy, whether that means keeping it up to date or redirecting its content towards new domains included in the client’s online strategy.
Speaking of mobile phones, why do we not adapt our communication channels to better suit the needs of our target user? If we already know that their mobile phone runs the Android operating system, why don’t we provide them with a specific version of the website tailored to their requirements?
Another of the developments included in the bbvamovil.es site is the creation of a specific landing page for every mobile version. This makes it possible for us to adapt to the users’ preferred channel and it helps them overcome the obstacles that stand between them and the information they require. This type of action will be more beneficial to us than we imagined. Segment your market and sell.
Starting in September, you’ll be able to use your palm – and not your debit card – to withdraw cash at Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank ATM’s in Japan. To use the new machines, customers will need to have their palms scanned and their biometric data registered. Aside from the convenience factor, biometric ATM’s could prove to be extremely useful in times of emergency; after the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster, many Japanese people were unable to access their money as they had no access to bankcards and other identifying documents.
There’s no doubt that the gaming industry is booming. According the 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report published by the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), consumers spent 25.1 billion dollars on games in 2010. Although this number may seem a bit astronomical at first, consider the context – upwards of 72% of American households play computer or video games. In the words of Al Gore, “Games are the new normal.”
With stats like that, it should come as no surprise that gamification – the use of game design techniques to encourage users to engage in a particular behaviour – is quickly being embraced my marketers and CEOs alike. It’s a huge and relatively new method for brands to attract and engage consumers, including those outside of their traditional market segments. This is particularly true for brands that want to resonate with Generation C, who has grown up gaming and is continuing to do so into adulthood. According to the ESA, the average age of a gamer today is 37, and only 18% are under 18.
Traditionally conservative industries, like banking, could stand to benefit the most from incorporating gamification into their marketing strategies. Banks already hold a large consumer base – however for the most part it isn’t very engaged. Banking is something we have to do, not something that we want to do or seek enjoyment from. Games can fix all that.
So how can the banking industry utilize gamification to better meet the needs of its consumers? For starters, it can offer incentives for consumers to engage in desired behaviours like depositing money into a savings account or setting up a RRSP. For these game-inspired initiatives to work, however, banks will have to find ways to celebrate their gamers. One way this can be done is to transform rewards from digital gold stars to real-life benefits (such as unlimited ATM withdrawals or lower chequing fees). Banks could also stand to benefit from a little friendly competition as users compete against one another in special challenges.
Get rewarded for your savings, not your spending.
That said, gamification shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of the social trend. While the two do compliment each other (high scores and accomplishments could be shared on Facebook), it is possible for them to exist separately from one another. This is particularly relevant to the gamification of banking, where increased consumer concerns over data security and personal privacy should be expected.
So what are you waiting for? Let the games begin!
Mobile banking apps are being adopted at a surprisingly fast rate (particularly in Canada), but what about the security concerns.
What are your thoughts on a mobile banking app?
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