Jan 01 2003

Marketing Checking Accounts to Members: A Guide for Credit Unions


This study provides a guide for credit unions for marketing checking accounts to members. It uses data to identify the most important criteria that households use to decide where to obtain checking services.

Jinkook Lee
PhD, Professor of Consumer Science and Research Associate at the Center for Human Resources Research
Ohio State University
William A. Kelly, Jr.
Center for Credit Union Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Report Number 85

Executive Summary

It is well known that households that have a checking account at a financial institution are more likely to obtain other products there as well. Our product study is designed to determine what influences household decisions on where to obtain a checking account. We use the Federal Reserve System’s Survey of Consumer Finances for data on consumer attitudes regarding where to obtain a checking account. This provides information on why consumers choose where they obtain their checking services. However, for the most effective marketing strategy, information on how consumers make this decision is also valuable. 

What is the research about?

To gain insights into this issue, we conducted four focus groups that developed information on the decision process. We find that consumers differ substantially in their perceptions of the range of prices and products in the marketplace, which suggests that some tend to be “relationship shoppers” and others “product shoppers.” In addition, we develop insights into consumer perceptions concerning such issues as membership, community ties, convenience, and trust; and we develop the marketing implications of these perceptions.

What are the credit union implications?

To design the most effecting marketing strategies for checking accounts, credit union marketers can benefit from data on what influences household decisions about where to obtain a checking account. However, to be most effective, marketers should know not only what influences consumers’ decisions in this regard, but also how consumers make this decision.