Branch Visibility Sways Most Shoppers to Larger Institutions

When consumers look for new a bank, data reveals that they consistently pick institutions with branch and ATM locations near where they work or live.
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On FindABetterBank, we constantly examine the frequency consumers’ “top three” choices to see how and why they pick the banks and credit unions they do, and which institutions enjoy the greatest advantages.

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National Banks. At least one of these institutions is present in most searches on FindABetterBank. When a national bank is present in shoppers’ search results, at least one is selected as a top three choice 82% of the time. When we observe shoppers using FindABetterBank, they typically start with a “short list” of nearby institutions and most will include one or more large banks in their top three choices to compare features and functionality.

Regional Banks. These institutions aren’t as omnipresent as big banks. But still, when these banks are present in shoppers’ search results, they’re one of shoppers’ top three choices 57% of the time.

National banks are one of shoppers’ top 3 choices 82% of the time.
— FindABetterBank

Small Institutions. When a community bank or credit union is presented in shoppers’ search results, they’re chosen as a top three contender 40% of the time. These results are at a national level and can vary greatly at a local level. In some markets, small institutions are the big players, so
they’re often included as a top three choice.

Direct Banks. For the most part, the direct banks listed on FindABetterBank are well-advertised national brands, so many shoppers recognize their names. At least one of these institutions is included in as a top three choice 53% of the time. In terms of features and functionality, direct banks usually meet a high percentage of shoppers’ feature requirements and have very low estimated fees. So they get selected as a top three in more than half of their opportunities because of high brand name awareness and better feature-functionality.

A few weeks ago, we spent an hour with seven people (separately) in New York City. Each was actively trying to switch banks and we wanted to understand how they’re going to make their decisions. We also wanted to watch them use FindABetterBank to better understand how the site is used within the context of their shopping processes. When we observe bank shoppers in a live setting, we consistently find their first step is to visit the websites of institutions with branch and ATM locations near where they work or live. This was the case for all seven recruits recently tested. Why? While most of us are digital in how we shop, we still want a physical connection to the institution we bank with — even if we’ll rarely visit a branch. And branches still serve as the most important form of advertising. National and regional banks enjoy a real advantage because of their large branch networks.

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