Toilet Paper And Online Banking

Bank Innovation Monitor released a study recently which proclaimed that “consumers show deep ‘love’ for online banking.” The study found that:

“Only 3.8% of Americans over the age of 18 are not aware of online banking. However, it is not just that the vast majority of consumers are aware of online banking or using many online banking functions; consumers “love” online banking. Which online banking service is most “loved” by consumers? That would be online bill pay, the stickiest and most-killer of all banking features.”

My take: Americans “love” online banking no more than they do toilet paper.

Let’s compare the data:

  • 96% of Americans are aware of online banking (source: Bank Innovation Monitor). 96% of Americans are aware of toilet paper (source: my unscientific estimate, based neither on surveys nor personal observations).
  • 100% of Americans who bank online can’t live without it (source: OK, I made it up). 100% of Americans who use toilet paper can’t live without it (source: yep, made that up, too).

Now, let me ask you this: Although you might be fiercely loyal to a particular brand of toilet paper (the reasons for which I will not now, nor ever, ask you about), do you “love” your toilet paper?

If the answer to that question is YES, click here.

If the answer to that question is NO, keep reading. 

Bank marketers need to be careful to not confuse usage/dependency with an emotional attachment.

If consumers “loved” online banking so much, then wouldn’t it hold that they would “love” the providers of that service, i.e., the banks?

But, as we all know, consumers don’t love their banks. Nor do they love online banking. It’s simply a convenience that many of us have grown to rely on, and would be unwilling to give up. But that attachment is far from something we would call “love.”

Consumers don’t love online banking. In fact, most don’t really care about financial services or financial services providers very much at all. I would venture to guess that average Americans spend more time figuring out what restaurant to eat out at on a Saturday night than they do figuring out which bank to do business with.

If consumers truly loved online banking, than providing a measurably better online banking experience should get many of them to switch banks, right?

Good luck pursuing that path.

Toilet paper advertising is probably a good role model for bank advertising.

What does toilet paper advertising try to do? It tries to get people to care about their decision. It tries to get people to see that the choice in toilet paper is important. And if it’s successful in doing that, then the advertising can persuade consumers that one brand is superior to another.

Final point: I hope the people who clicked on the link above came back to read the rest of the post.

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11 thoughts on “Toilet Paper And Online Banking

  1. There are moments when I love my toilet paper, especially after being on the road for 5 straight days in a hotel that uses the no name “Florida paper”…but I digress. I happened to read the report last night and thought “wait til Ron sees this”. I’m curious though, they asked a group of people “Imagine telling a friend about the the best new product or feature…. you’ve seen in the past 5 years”. About 17% described Online Banking. Not exactly overwhelming, but is this really the best new thing we’ve had in the past 5 years? So what the heck did the other 83% describe?

  2. Good question (regarding the other 83%). I think the answer depends on whether or not they’re a member of Idiots Anonymous or not. 🙂 I should contact that group and ask them.

  3. Online banking is a commodity–pure and simple; just like toilet paper. No one joins a credit union or goes to a bank because of their home banking offerings. If you don’t want to be a commodity, stop offering commodities.

  4. I laughed out loud when I read this one because it’s so true! A superior online banking offering will not cause consumers to switch….it’s just one part of the banking table stakes that contributes to an overall experience. Like soft toilet paper good online banking will hopefully assist in crafting a pleasant experience. But soft toilet paper independent of the customer experience is seldom the driver of a consumer’s choice just as good online banking is seldom the sole driver of a choice in a FI. Great post, Ron!

  5. Carolyn: Thanks for the comment. You raise another great point about dissecting consumers’ choices. Market researchers are always quick to apply some statistical technique to their analysis to show that one component of the decision is so much more important than the rest. Problem is, the research is always based on answers that people give to surveys. And no one really knows how they make decisions to do this or that. So the next time somebody says that _____ is the most important factor influencing consumers’ choice of banks/credit unions, DON’T BELIEVE IT. (Unless, of course, it was me who said it).

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