Reduce their shopping stress with identity protection programs and provide financial empowerment.
Are consumers jollier as they head into this holiday shopping season than in 2021? According to reports, holiday shopping so far is down year-over-year, however, sales were still high and the most we’ve seen this year.
It’s understandable that consumers may still be cautious. Recent Experian data shows that the pandemic continues to affect consumers’ wallets and they are more focused as we close out the year on their budget and financial planning than in years past. More than a third of consumers surveyed said COVID-19 caused credit or financial barriers that have prevented them from doing holiday shopping the way they planned this holiday season. Almost a third (30%) said they are stressed about shopping, up from 25% last year.
Among the top worries for consumers is having enough money to buy gifts, an increase of 6% over last year, and sticking to a budget. Consumers certainly don’t want to overextend themselves in case there are macro societal or economic issues next year that could leave them struggling financially.
Adding to their worries is concern about increasing identity theft and data breaches, with about a third of consumers feeling anxiety about it. Regardless, online shopping continues to be a popular choice, illustrated by Cyber Monday logging $10.7 billion in sales in 2021. However, all this online shopping puts consumers at an elevated risk.
Meanwhile, the majority of consumers surveyed still expect institutions to help protect them, with 82% feeling that banks and credit card companies should take more precautions to safeguard them from identity theft and fraud. Furthermore, according to a report by Experian and Javelin Strategy & Research, 38% of consumers closed a bank account impacted by fraud in 2020. According to Experian research done over 12 months, customers stay with businesses longer when they are enrolled in digital credit and identity protection products. The end of the year is a prime opportunity to ramp up tailored communications and consider enhancing your portfolio to provide value-add offerings that meet members’ needs.
What Credit Unions Can Do to Connect With Members in 2022
Here are some steps to take that can better connect you to your members and are likely to pay off in increased loyalty in 2022.
- Understand where you can fill in the gaps. As a financial institution, you can help to improve members’ overall financial health in many ways. As examples, providing access to credit scores and offering educational content are simple resources that can be made available within your platform. Additionally, tools that protect consumers’ personal data are coveted. There have been approximately 1,300 data breaches so far in 2021, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, and a recent Axway consumer survey found that 82% of respondents have concerns their online data is not secure. Consumer demand for identity theft protection reflects a fundamental human need for security and peace of mind. It also gives you a chance to help fulfill that need.
- Leverage data and trends. Make sure you can recognize moments of opportunity to protect member trust and loyalty. As a trusted keeper of members’ valuable personal and financial data, there is an opportunity to do more to show you care about protecting them. Such features as password managers, safe browsers and virtual private networks are tools that help consumers take more control over their data and protect their privacy. Can you play a role in offering digital privacy tools or account monitoring features to your members?
- Valuable content informs and engages members. According to our survey, the second top financial goal among consumers for 2022 is to improve their credit scores followed by creating a personal budget. Education is key to financial empowerment. Roughly 14 million American adults are currently unbanked and 18.7% are underbanked, according to the FDIC, while nearly 1 in 3 consumers has a subprime credit score, based on Experian data. Financial providers have a big window of opportunity to help American households and expand their audience by providing added education, instruction and thought leadership about money management. You can help differentiate your credit union and enhance your brand reputation as a company that cares about its members and provides maximum value.
Credit unions and other types of institutions play in very competitive fields today and will need to continue to evolve to gain customers and keep their loyalty. The holiday season into the New Year is a key time to assess your strategies and engage with members to help them manage their finances for their future success and yours.
Joe Talbot is SVP for Experian Partner Solutions, the leading provider of business-to-business financial, identity and platform services that reach more than 117 million U.S. consumers.