Compared to peers, Canadian P2P has conservative image

This past week saw the launch of not one, but two peer-to-peer lenders. The first, IOU Central, introduced Canadians toP2P lending with a conservative look compared to its U.S. peers.

The website features images of folks who are arguably more mature than the stereotypical Gen-Y audience commonly — but not always accurately — associated with P2P lending.

IOU Central website

There’s Ms. Borrower (upper left) in her 30s. Mr. Successful (upper right) is 40-something. Mr. Banker Endorsement is 40-something (lower right). The youngest guy on the page is IOU’s CEO & President Phil Marleau (center bottom), and he’s pretty stiff in his introductory video.

The site’s marketing also seems to exploit sexist clichés:

  • Man = success, wealth, money, choices, power
  • Woman = needy, “designer,” dreamer, weak

The colors – steely blues, icy gray and black – are a stark contrast to sites like Zopa where a lighter overall feeling prevails. Shown, in order, are Zopa, Prosper and Lending Club:

Zopa homepage Prosper homepage Lending Club homepage

Key Questions:

  • Is this a deliberate attempt by IOU to differentiate its brand?
    Perhaps by appealing to a Gen-X and Boomer audience?
  • What are the differences between the U.S. and Canadian P2P audiences?
  • Will IOU’s intended audience respond favorably to the “serious and secure” brand image it projects?

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