Financial Services Content Marketing: How FRANK By OCBC Captured 50% Of Singapore’s Youths

Imagines this: you’re a content marketer in a traditional industry, confined by regulations and countless red tape.
You don’t stand a chance of creating content so engaging, so practical that it helps to capture your target market.
Especially if your target market is young, digitally savvy consumers.
That’d be impossible, right?!
Or is it?
I spoke with Thu Nguyen, Vice President, Youth Segment Marketing at OCBC Bank to find out how she and her team managed to capture one in every two youths banking with OCBC.

Launching A Youth Sub-brand

How do you create a sub-brand in Singapore’s longest established bank? The team at OCBC pondered that question when they created FRANK by OCBC, a youth sub-brand under OCBC, in 2011.
The goal of FRANK?
Capture the market of underserved and rising 16-29 year old millennials who will be the bank’s future customers.

Conducting Target Audience Analysis

In 2011, the concept of a millennial bank didn’t exist yet in Singapore.
The challenge?
Building a brand concept from scratch, through:

  • customer experience design
  • ethnographic research
  • Identifying the needs, wants, desired features, products and ways of engaging youths

Changing Industry Perceptions & Building Trust

Based on the team’s research they found:

  • Youths felt that banks were cold, scary and too much banking jargon was used
  • Youths did not feel like banks cared about them because they did not have much money
  • All banks felt and looked the same to them
  • Youths were confused about finances and needed a peer to help lead them

To gain even deeper insights, the OCBC team shadowed youths, brought them in for prototype testing, followed their savings and spending habits on an everyday basis.

Educating Through Content, Not Selling

Based on this extensive research, FRANK by OCBC was developed. FRANK was borne with the vision to be a simple, stylish and meaningful brand for youths that championed financial literacy – to engage youths and not just push products to youths.
They then broke FRANK down into guiding characteristics:

  • Simple: avoiding banking jargon and explaining finance in simple terms
  • Stylish: with features such as 120 card designs – certainly not banking products their parents would use
  • Meaningful: creating simple finance hacks to help youths manage adulthood while not losing their sense of adventure: Save Well, Spend Wisely, Protect Early and Invest Smartly

FRANK Stores were created, modelled after retail experiences rather than banks. FRANK Ambassadors didn’t wear uniforms and followed a youthful style guide to provide peer-to-peer service.

Capturing 50% Of Singapore’s Young Customers

Since launching FRANK in 2011, the bank has now achieved:

  • One in every two youths (aged 16-29) banking with OCBC
  • Top Net Promoter Score in the young professionals segment
  • A case study for foreign banks to visit and learn about engaging the youth segment

Paving The Path For The Future Of FRANK & Financial Content

Fast forward to today, youths are growing up in an environment where they face new challenges and a multitude of financial services vying for their attention. This is the first generation to favour passion and purpose over a 9-5 stable job, prefer co-working spaces to fixed workspaces, grow up in a shared economy where physical possessions are not a sign of wealth as they used to be, work-life balance, health/fitness and a sense of community and care for the environment and self is more important than ever.
FRANK by OCBC is also growing up with them to broaden their brand purpose to empower youths in the new world economy: both financial skills and life-skills wise.
To keep them engaged and empowered, FRANK by OCBC is investing in content that will keep up with the youths of today:

  • Partnerships with youth entrepreneurs and youth trailblazers with interesting passion stories and entrepreneurial tips to share. For example, partnerships with Joanne Lim from The Letter J Workshop, a calligrapher who built her success through many trials and errors – from not understanding fully business loan terms of payment to learning to price her products, she shares the road to her dreams and the financial lessons along the way.
  • Exploring interesting youth trends such as conscious consumption and cutting single-use plastics from daily life: FRANK by OCBC partnered with youth marine biologists turned planet warriors Sam and Yi Chong from Our Singapore Reefs to organise a youth dive to clean up Lazarus Island from 68kg of marine debris.
  • Actionable workshops in which youths can explore their passions: 50% off all creative workshops at co-making space MOX: from bench-making to dress-sewing to cake-baking.
  • Financial seminars to get started as a youth investor, conducted at the FRANK Store and with campus investment clubs
  • Career workshops to explore career development and ways to stand out in the workplace while keeping true to your work purpose and strengths.

Since the content investments from Nov 2017, the website organic traffic has increased 40% and in 2018 is expected to double. Content posts that were optimised for Instastories, Instagram and Facebook with good storytelling investments from youth collaborators achieved half the usual CPM and one third the usual CPC.
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