September 14, 2018

If Banks want the greatest ROI for their marketing spend to the most elusive generation in the region, then look no further. We have comprehensive research on tactics that assure success when marketing to Arab Millennials. Let’s dive straight into them:

Go Mobile: For Millennials, mobile is not a channel, it’s a lifestyle. This should be a bank’s primary focus for going digital. Offer everything that is possible on mobile. Save as many steps and clicks between opening the app and giving them what they want. Be simple but also be clear, which means being intuitive and not overwhelming. Your app should never crash. Arab Millennials may be more loyal than their global peers but they are the most susceptible to switching brands based on a poor mobile experience.

Millennials are extremely comfortable transacting online. They hate waiting and want the process to simply work. If you have a loyalty program, they will want to check their rewards regularly via mobile. Free them from having to visit a retail branch and having to wait in queues. They want their convenience and you can lay that out by mapping their journeys via mobile.

From shareholder value to shared value: Millennials want to know how a bank is contributing to a society. A bank whose marketing focuses on making a difference has a clear advantage when converting and retaining Millennial customers. Millennials want you to go beyond “shareholder value” to “shared value”, where economic and social gains are intertwined. In the Arab world, Millennials do not want specific political systems, rather they will opt-in for stability. So, for them, social impact organizations fulfill the need that political activism would similarly fulfill Millennials in other regions. This is a powerful insight if utilized strategically. But remember, Millennials are both smart and skeptical. Doing this for perception only will backfire. Have a purpose beyond profit and make it your mission, then market it rigorously.

Focus on the journey, not the destination: Millennials are growing up in the shared economy. They are the least ownership obsessed generation in history. They are delaying purchases of houses, cars, and even delaying relationships! They are living in the times of co-working spaces, Airbnb and Careem…. and perhaps in another few years, in an era of driverless cars and drone delivery of their grocery. When in college, they start dreaming of startups. It is clear they do not fully subscribe to benchmarks of achievements like houses, stable jobs, and cars like generations before. Banks need to understand this critical difference and adapt accordingly. Design thinking helps greatly. One fully digital bank we know mapped over a hundred customer journeys before they even launched the bank, just so they could build the processes around the customer.

Lead with content: Banks need to be value based over effort based. Mindlessly being present in a digital channel by adopting retail campaigns and visuals to digital leads nowhere. It’s the narrative that is more important. Millennials believe in pinging their networks to get reviews, and a lot of these conversations have moved beyond the web and social media into messengers like Whatsapp. Brands who need to get at these customers, need to start clever conversations that make their way virally into these messenger ecosystems.

Banks have the opportunity to layer their products and services with originally crafted content to win mindshare of customers, to create trust and get a greater share of their wallet. For example, if one of your strategic aims is to become number 1 or 2 in the market for SMB businesses, create content that helps them do business. Give them tips on how to manage their return on working capital, what areas of a business to focus on, do a weekly risk report etc. Focus on content that helps them grow. You will see returns!

Always be authentic. If you mess up, apologize. Banks that bear their scars are authentic. Always be actionable with your content so make sure they can use what it says immediately, and/ or it has a call to action that gives them an immediate benefit. Instant easily redeemable discounts will always go down well. Wellness matters to them, so see how you can incorporate that into your branding. Millennials also respect banks that respect and celebrate diversity and inclusion. Financial inclusion and how banks are helping is an important unused theme.

Big data and marketing analytics also help. Within a few quarters of a content-led strategy, analytics can give key insights, allowing you to get the right content to the right customers at the right time. This will push potential customers on their journeys and create greater product conversion. Invest in the tech to enable this.

Arab Millennials are a massive opportunity and in the driving seat of an economic region that is the 8th largest economy in the world. Banks that obsess over understanding Millennials, learning how to manage Millennials and how to sell to Millennials, will find they have reinvented their business in the process. Like any younger generation, they are inexperienced and idealistic. The banks’ role is to make sure they partner with them on this journey and become meaningful to them, and they will reap immense rewards.


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