Focus Group Finds Consumers Uncertain, At Best, Over CUs

Credit Union Journal Daily Briefing | Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Video of a focus group of consumers made for some awkward and uncomfortable moments for credit unions, as the participants expressed views ranging from broad misunderstandings to negative assessments of credit unions.

The focus group was conducted by researcher Neil Goldman among residents of Palm Beach County, Fla., and shown during CO-OP Financial Services’ THINK 12 Conference here.

In the same focus group consumers expressed numerous negative views of banks, but as Goldman noted in his comments, it takes a great deal of misery to get someone to move an account, with the additional challenge being people do not know what options they have. While the answer might be obvious to credit unions, as the focus group showed, it is less than obvious to consumers. Among the comments made by the people in the focus group: “I’m paying too much in gas right now to drive to Timbuktu to go to a credit union”; “In my brain it’s always been a private establishment, almost like a snobby thing”; “It’s not clear what you have to do to be a part of one, but I think it’s like through a spouse’s work or a company”; and, “I can only think of one credit union in the county that I’ve driven by.”

“When we see results we are not thrilled with, it’s either an operational issue, or it’s a marketing/perception issue,” said Goldman. “That’s where we are. We are competitive, but the consumer just doesn’t know it.”

Goldman is leading a live focus group of consumers at THINK today.