Consumer relationships with providers

Banks and IFAs scored higher than both mortgage providers and insurers.

The strength of customer relationship appears to be mainly governed by how essential the consumer feels the service or product is, rather than the personal pleasure they derive from it. However, financial brands are often regarded as unexciting by the consumer, and sometimes find it difficult to grab the people's attention in recruitment and retention campaigns. They therefore can gain great benefit from marketing partnerships with more 'interesting' brands. Some sectors, however, do manage to combine a consumer image of both reliance and pleasure, including mobile phone providers and computer brands.

The Mediator research, in collaboration with MarketingUK, investigated the kind of “relationships” consumers have with different types of suppliers. As well as examining the relative strength of these relationships, the research also analysed the balance between necessity (“I need to have a relationship with this organisation”) and desire (“I want to have a relationship with this organisation”). Respondents were marketers from the UK top 1000 companies.

Commenting on the results, Joe Craggs, managing director of Mediator, said, “Given all the criticism now being levelled at return on investment from CRM, it is astonishing that so little research has been conducted on the kind of relationships that consumers want to develop with different types of organisation. We have therefore commissioned this current report to obtain an objective picture of whether necessity or desire is more effective in building customer relationships. The results provide an important insight for CRM strategies, and for appropriate brand partnerships to support those strategies.

“Financial service companies have invested heavily in CRM initiative and systems, so their dominance in relationship strength was not surprising, with the banking sector in top position. However, insurers and mortgage finance providers will be concerned that IFAs pipped them both by coming in second place, evidence perhaps that direct operations and portal initiatives have not been sufficiently effective to dent the high regard in which truly independent financial advice is held.”