Challenging the new banks to invest in sport
The last few years have seen the rise of a new type of bank.
Known as “challenger”, “digital-first” or “mobile-only” banks, they include the likes of Monzo, Revolut, Starling, and Atom. These young guns are aiming to disrupt the status quo, primarily by exploiting technology in a way that traditional banks have failed to do.
Traditional banks have clearly seen the value of sponsoring sports over the years so there’s no reason why this next generation shouldn’t either. So, rights holders should be looking at this sector not just as a partner for investment but also for its digital savvy and access to young audiences. Atom Bank, for example, didn’t turn to a financial expert to attract a young audience, they turned to musician-turned-pretty-much-everything, will.i.am.
Who goes there?
Not surprisingly, it’s the younger digitally-savvy segment the challenger banks appeal to. The majority of their users are 25-34 year olds (say BANKNXT) while Censuswide/Crealogix say 1 in 4 people under 37 (the so-called Millennial and Generation Z demographics) are using them.
The banks’ appeal is shown through slogans such as “The bank of the future” (Monzo), “Your Digital Banking Alternative” (Revolut), and “The bank you’ll love to use” (N26). However, certainly compared to most sectors, challenger banks have been limited in their marketing.
Weapons of choice
Viral campaigns have been the predominant tool of choice – such as rewards or incentives for customers if they recommend the bank to others. Another tactic was employing university students as brand ambassadors to market in campuses and forums.
Alongside the natural choice of social media campaigning, which included influencers and bloggers producing video or written endorsements, the challengers have used more traditional methods such as outdoor, predominantly in public transport.
Undoubtedly, there is room for challenger banks to do even more – particularly as this new frontier becomes increasingly cluttered.
Sport to the rescue?
As with other sectors, sports offers the challenger banks an abundance of unique and creative opportunities to promote their services. There’s certainly plenty of room to exploit here as the challengers have a very limited involvement in sports marketing, particularly compared to the traditional banks. The latter have always gone big on the likes of golf, tennis, rugby and football.
Revolut are one of the only challenger banks really utilising sports as a vehicle. They’ve undertaken small marketing activations with football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic (now LA Galaxy and ex-Manchester United) endorsing their bank card and supplying Team GB with prepaid cards at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
An obvious synergy for challengers is activating with non-traditional sports such as esports, surfing, extreme and snow-sports who share a common purpose, energy and focus in challenging the dominance of the traditional powers.
There is perhaps greater freedom in a partnership between such comrades in exploring new ways to capture audience hearts and minds. Indeed, challengers are constantly looking to differentiate themselves from the mainstream market so rights holders need to focus on how they can offer something really unique and different from what’s gone before.
Alongside this, it’s about rights holders displaying how their platform can bring the challengers exposure, legitimacy, and further opportunities. Importantly, gaining the trust of wider society will be vital if the new banks are to truly take over from the current crop – and sport always has a big role to play here.
For a more in-depth look at the sector, check out caytoo’s Challenger Banks Brand landscape.