Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Branding Superannuation Funds


The battle for brand
By Christine St Anne
Thu, 01 Feb 2007

Some important points

Marketeers have known for generations that powerful emotions can be precipitated and nurtured through symbols and words. These symbols and words then become the shorthand method of delivering an image or promise, which ultimately becomes a brand.

Devising a brand that would communicate to members the identity of a new and bigger organisation was one of the key issues that faced the Australian Retirement Fund and Superannuation Trust of Australia when they merged in May 2006 to create the $20 billion AustralianSuper.

The concept behind the brand was developed from in-depth research with staff, members and employers. The fund's research showed there was a positive connotation with the notion of Australia and Australian.It signified honesty, diversity and real strength.

For an established player like AMP - which was founded in 1849 - branding is a continuous process.

To engage its members, AustralianSuper segments along a number of variables. In particular the age of a member, their stage in life and the industry they work in. The fund also considers the level of super savings that each member has in their account.

"This most oft en correlates very closely with their level of interest and the types of products, services and offers which will be most relevant to them," McIvor says.

The fund also communicates to its members by phone, online and in person. To ensure its website encourages its members to engage with their super, AMP Corporate Super continually tests client response to its website.

"We do a lot of research with our member base. This includes group testing where we put eye goggles on each member and sit them down in front of our online member education site. These eye goggles monitor where the eyes go, giving us an idea about what our members think are the most useful things on the web," Healy says.

BT has embarked on a campaign designed to reflect the life experiences of its clients in a way that also entertains them and teases out their interest.

They chose boxer 'Aussie' Joe Bugner and supermodel 'The Body' Elle McPherson to represent the growth of wealth on the back of hard work and achievement. The campaign also includes a reference to the Ashes series to inform people that the performance of the Australian share market will not continue its dream run of double-digit returns.

The campaign is continually monitored to ensure people understand the company's messages, and Evans says to date it has been successful. "The Investment and Superannuation Truths campaign resulted in significant lift s in brand awareness and consideration. There were big improvements in brand perception, as measured by the brand attributes we track," he says.

For Livanas there is still a long way to go before the industry understands the true nature of how people operate as a group, let alone how they approach the purchase of financial products.

"We are at the crossroads of understanding the way people act as a group. Understanding the way people purchase financial products poses an additional challenge. Our task is to provide shorthand messages to communicate effectively these product promises in a way that will enable people to make appropriate decisions," he says.

To encourage these 'avoiders' to become proactive with their super savings, corporate superannuation provider Plum Financial Services launched its Escalator Program in September 2006 (see box).

To ensure its clients think more about their super, Plum uses the web, workplace seminars and brochures to communicate. The company is also considering other, more creative, mediums to get its message of super saving across.

"At the moment we offer after-work seminars that talk about super saving. To make it exciting we offer nibbles and funky drinks, but we want to reach people who may not be able to attend these seminars. We would even consider something like YouTube," Company persons claim.

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