Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

The ‘Little 3’ Generate Greater Returns than the ‘Big 4’

By Suzy Coulson, Digital Research Assistant, Global Reviews

The ‘Big 4’ (Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB) deserve their ‘big’ title as typically they’re the first brands that come to mind when thinking about banking products. This was no exception when we ran our Q2 Digital Marketing Effectiveness study this year where we followed the research journey taken by prospective savings account customers.

First up we asked consumers to recall up to 5 brands that could offer them savings products. The results showed the Big 4 far out-number the rest of the industry with a 40 point lead.

While they may be the most recognisable brands in the industry, we’ve found that they’re not necessarily the most preferred when all is said and done. There are a few brands in particular that are flying under the radar and giving the big boys a run for their money…

Most notably ING Direct, Bankwest and Rabo Direct whom we’ve dubbed as the ‘Little 3’.

Despite low recall rates, each of these brands outranked one or more of the big 4 when consumers came to selecting a preferred savings account provider. Topping this group was ING Direct. Initially only recalled by 21% of consumers, ING Direct was finally selected as most preferred brand with a total of 13% of consumers. This equalled Commonwealth Bank who was initially recalled by 77%, and ANZ who was initially recalled by 65%. Rabo Direct essentially came out of nowhere with a lowly 2% recall rate, only to rise up and take out equal 4th position in final preference ahead of Westpac and alongside Bankwest with 7%.

So if these brands were recalled by far less people than the Big 4, how did they make their way to the top of the preferred list? Essentially it comes down to rates. Those who preferred ING Direct, Bankwest or Rabo Direct overwhelmingly chose them because they offer good rates. Across the entire study, 66% of consumers chose their preferred brand based on rate offerings. In contrast, ‘previous use’ was the most common reason given for customers choosing Commonwealth Bank and Westpac scoring 58% and 71% respectively. ANZ was chosen because of brand trust (68%) and NAB for having an easy to use website (54%).

Savings brand chosen

Being loud in the market obviously increases your brand recognition. This alongside loyalty, trust and user friendly websites are all important elements brands should strive for, but in the case of the savings account industry this is not enough. While the Big 4 are noisily fighting amongst themselves, we’re starting to see some significantly smaller brands such as the Little 3, quietly stroll in and collect the forgotten customers. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds as we anticipate the latest wave of results in a few weeks time.

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To understand how this insight helps marketers make better decisions, call:

Ché Carbis
Senior Commercial Director
T: +61 3 9982 3419
M: +61 411 962 857


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