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Creating an Innovation Strategy that Drives Differentiation and Member Loyalty

Results from the 2nd Annual Credit Union Innovation Success Study

This marks the second year of the Credit Union Innovation Success Study. It is part of a broader six-year effort—the American Innovation Index™—that measures innovation in the US economy by quantifying the experiences of the customers from over 200 brands.
  • Lerzan Aksoy Dean & Professor of Marketing at Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University
  • Gina Woodall President at Rockbridge Associates

Executive Summary

The Credit Union Innovation Success Study measures the state of innovativeness of the credit union sector based on member experience and identifies opportunities for these institutions to differentiate themselves from traditional bank competitors and fintechs. In its second year, the study finds that while credit unions excel in member loyalty, their business and social innovativeness as viewed by members are only slightly above average compared to other financial institutions. The Innovation Index scores matter because there is a strong statistically significant relationship to member loyalty, brand attractiveness, satisfaction, and product usage. Innovation has been shown to spark loyalty by triggering positive emotions of both excitement and fulfillment. Credit unions excel at fulfillment—that is, being satisfying and pleasing to do business with—but remain average on generating emotions of excitement.

Credit Union Implications

In formulating innovation strategy to best compete with other financial institutions, the study reveals the credit unions should do the following:

  • Focus efforts on areas that are both desirable and innovative, including caring about members, always being available when needed, and offering fast, responsive service.
  • Although product innovation, adapting to change, and personalization are highly innovative, these are not a high priority for members.
  • Invest in areas based on how much room exists for improvement and differentiating power.
  • Credit unions should not overlook table stakes for doing business, such as helping members save time and money and ensuring lower fees.
  • In looking to the future to leverage social innovation, emphasize member financial well-being and help members save time and money.

The Credit Union Innovation Success Study reinforces the importance of focusing on innovation and provides guidance on strategies credit unions should pursue in the future. Download the full report and accompanying summary slides to find recommendations for specific strategic priorities for leveraging innovation. 

Filene's Center for Innovation and Incubation is generously funded by:

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