The Huffington Post recently published a blog post highlighting Bank of America’s marketing shift that led the firm to create a llama-themed lens on Snapchat. The reason (or blame, depending on your point of view) for this outcome can primarily be placed at the feet of Millennials.
BofA has had to alter its media mix, venturing into new channels and novel strategies in order to remain relevant to younger banking customers. The firm’s targeting of Millennials was clearly evident during our research for Corporate Insight’s new syndicated report Millennials Revisited: Financial Services and the Digital Generation. In that report, we note that Bank of America is a clear leader among established banks and card issuers when it comes to serving Millennials. Many of the firm’s recent business decisions seem to have been made with Millennials in mind. This was kick-started when BofA made news earlier this year by announcing it would triple its investment in its mobile apps. The firm promptly followed this announcement with the release of a best-in-class smartphone banking app this summer, accompanied by a new ad campaign with a talking llama as the spokesperson (spokesanimal?) clearly aimed at a younger demographic. As mentioned above, advertisements for the new app appeared across platforms and included traditional outdoor and TV spots, but also focused heavily on social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.
The app itself lets users open an account, offers access to educational content that is rare on competitor apps, and comes in a Spanish language version. The Spanish language option is particularly noteworthy, as it’s a feature we have not seen on the apps of any other banks we track through our Bank Monitor service. Nielsen research found that Hispanic Millennials were more likely to both own a smartphone and use it for banking than non-Hispanic Millennials. Bank of America stands out by catering to this sizable portion of the Millennial demographic.
From a social media standpoint, BofA uses its Facebook page to promote ad campaigns and social causes and to respond to customer complaints. The firm was one of the first financial institutions to offer customer service through Twitter, beginning in January 2009. In 2014, we reported on the launch of its innovative “Teller Assist” ATMs, which allows customers to speak directly with a teller (in English or Spanish) via real-time video conference during both regular and extended hours. Originally limited to one of the firm’s banking centers in Boston, this technology is now being rolled out nationally.
Bank of America’s longstanding Keep the Change savings program is a natural fit for Millennials. With Keep the Change, when clients make purchases with a BofA debit card, the bank automatically rounds the purchase up to the nearest dollar amount, with the difference transferred from the checking account to a linked savings account. This allows young adults to build up their savings without having to think about it. For credit card customers, Bank of America also offers a free credit score in its monthly statement or from the bank’s new smartphone app, information that’s important for young adults entering into financial maturity.
Bank of America has made great strides in providing services and features that are likely to attract younger clients to the bank. These significant resources have contributed toward creating one of the best mobile banking apps on the market, lending the firm a significant advantage over competitors with prospective Millennials.