Financial Services for Conscious Consumers: Popularity rises for big bank alternatives

The burst of the housing bubble in the mid-2000s and the revelation of the role big banks played spurred many consumers to reconsider their banking partner. Combine that with recent news about Wells Fargo’s less-than-transparent practices, and big banks still have a lot of trust to rebuild.

This situation has created a market opportunity for banking alternatives. Credit unions, the not-for-profit alternative to banks, have been experiencing growth at higher rates than traditional banks, partly due to the choices of millennials. Millennials have also fueled the growth of digital financial services offerings like Venmo.

As we’ve seen in many industries, Conscious Consumer values have driven the business plans of niche players who are designed to offer exactly what these consumers want. While these options are plentiful in food and beverage, apparel and retail, they may just be emerging in very traditional categories like financial services.

Enter Aspiration, a bank designed for Conscious Consumers, and a model for any marketer of a brand with a specific target market. From its tagline “Do Well. Do Good.” to the simple phrase on its landing page: “Banking and investing that puts you and your conscience first,” Aspiration has put a clear stake in the ground about who it is for.

Among its differentiating values:

  • Access for everyone to the best products (“elite investments for everyday investors”)
  • “Good before greed”
  • A focus on the middle class
  • Pay what you want (Hard to believe, but they are trusting investors to voluntarily compensate the firm for its services.)
  • 10% of profits to charity

Aspiration is delivering messages, driven by consumer insights, providing a solution to the problem of big bank distrust.

The Aspiration case study isn’t only relevant to financial services marketers. It reinforces the power of Conscious Consumer values to shape entire industries, lessons that can be applied in any industry that wants to obtain loyalty from these consumers who are willing to pay more for products and services that align with their values.

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