I Used 27% Of My Brain To Write This

Thanks to The Financial Brandfor bringing this to my attention. According to the according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Retail Bank Shopping Study™:

36 percent of a shopper’s selection decision is driven by the bank’s brand image, while branch proximity (21%) and products and services (14%) also considerably influence which bank shoppers ultimately choose.”

This is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all year. It’s wrong on a number of fronts:

  • You can’t dissect customers’ decisions into components. It just doesn’t work that way.  It’s not the way we make decisions. As rational as you might like to believe you are, you aren’t.
  • You can’t ask customers the relative weight of the factors going into a decision. Because they don’t know. Want to know why they don’t know? See the previous bullet point.
  • Brand image is a squishy, poorly defined, and not commonly defined, concept. JD Power defined brand image as perceived financial stability and reliability. Hmmm, I always thought it could encompass other perceptions. And I bet other people do too.
    • Even if I’m wrong on points 1, 2, and 3, I’m still left wondering: What can bank marketers do with this revelation? Answer: Nothing.

Here’s another nit I’m going to pick with the study: It was based on a sample of consumers who shopped for a new banking account or new primary financial institution in the 12 months leading up to March 2009 at 25 of the largest banks.

The problem with this is that in the 12 months leading up to March 2009, many consumers were leaving these large banks for smaller community banks and credit unions — financial institutions that don’t necessarily compete on the basis of branch proximity.

My beef isn’t with JD Power, however. A Google search for the study turned up about 4,800 links. While I [obviously] didn’t click on all these links, a scan of the links failed to turn up one link that talked about the possible weaknesses or limitations of the study’s approach. Not one.

One blogger, however (and thankfully), did go beyond simply reporting the “news”, and offered advice to banks on how to improve their brand image.

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