Co-operative buyer can’t just bank on keeping customers

Stephan ShakespeareCEO and Co-Founder
May 10, 2017, 9:04 AM GMT+0

With the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of Co-operative Bank, a new YouGov analysis underlines the challenge any new owner would have in ensuring the bank runs in a way that is aligned with current customers’ expectations.

The Who could buy the Co-operative Bank? report shows that ongoing indecision concerning its sale has impacted on the bank’s brand perception. Its Impression score (whether someone has a good impression of the brand) among all respondents has dropped by 8 points since it was announced the bank was up for sale and is now in negative territory (-2).

Perceptions have also slipped among current Co-operative Bank customers. Although the Impression score among this group remains healthy enough at +40, it has fallen from +57 over the last few months.

The first order of business for any incoming is to run the bank in a way that keeps the customer base on board. YouGov Profiles data confirms that Co-operative Bank customers are more likely than the general public to describe themselves as ‘ethical’, while a quarter (25% vs. 9% of the general public) look for ‘ethical’ credentials when choosing a bank account. 

Our figures show that they are more likely to make an effort to recycle, try to buy fair trade products and believe climate change is the biggest threat to civilisation.

What’s more, its current customers view the bank as being different to its rivals – and refute the notion that it is the same as all the other banks. Indeed, six in ten (60%) Co-operative Bank customers believe it is more ethical than its competitors.

As well as having to maintain its ethical credentials, any established bank looking to buy may also face resistance from customers who think the buyer is trying to trade on the Co-operative’s strong reputation. One in five (20%) who have accounts with the bank say they would think worse of it if it were bought by an established competitor, but continued to trade under the Co-operative banner, although over half (56%) would be unmoved.

So whatever the result of this protracted saga, special attention should be given to the particular motivations and characteristics of co-operative customers.

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This article originally appeared it City A.M.

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