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Does Imagery Matter: Delving into the Mind of Low- to Moderate-Income Savers

Low- to moderate-income (LMI) families are finding it increasingly difficult to save money. This report analyzes how marketing images influence LMI families’ likelihood of saving.

Executive Summary

The credit union system and D2D Fund share a common interest: better understanding the mind-set of low- to moderate-income (LMI) consumers regarding personal finances and financial services. For credit unions, attracting LMI customers is important to their mission of “meeting the credit and savings needs of consumers, especially persons of "modest means” and an important part of what distinguishes them from other depository institutions. As a nonprofit organization devoted to helping low-income families address their financial service needs—especially the need for saving opportunities—D2D knows it must understand these consumers’ thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about personal finance in order to serve them effectively.

What is the research about?

In this study, D2D explores LMI consumers’ receptivity to savings products by innovating around the market function. The research team utilizes the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET), an innovative research methodology that elicits insights about human decision making through metaphors and storytelling. Using a sophisticated interview technique, researchers encourage consumers to create stories and identify images about their feelings related to a topic of study. From these stories emerge metaphors, messages, and imagery that professional marketers use to build brands and products. This research study uses ZMET to better understand how LMI consumers approach money and savings, and their children’s financial futures.

What are the credit union implications?

This study recognizes that consumers use conscious and subconscious feelings to assess the effectiveness of credit union marketing messages. ZMET may prove to be a useful tool for marketing professionals to tap into consumers’ subconscious thoughts with compelling messages and metaphors. The results may be more members, more savings, and a more emotionally attuned membership base.

This report is sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation.