Fusing Banking with Lifestyle

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Obinna Chima writes on the new trend in the banking sector that is seeing more financial institutions delve into lifestyle activities in a bid to deepen engagement with their customers, especially the millennials

Globally, financial institutions are constantly adjusting to appeal to the needs of the millennial generation and banks in Nigeria have also adopted this strategy.

Today, financial institutions are gradually changing their banking model to attract and retain the country’s rising youth population, by creating an atmosphere that blends lifestyle, music, art, fashion, commerce, with banking.

Precisely, last month, a lot of banks in the country put together different lifestyle events to bond with their customers.

According to report by Accenture, banks are moving in the direction of identifying new micro-segments based on lifestyle, values, aspirations, and needs, and targeting them with dedicated propositions.
Lifestyle banking also focuses on delivering non-financial experiences to customers that help enhance their life and also embedding banking products and services within these experiences.

The benefit of this approach is that it enables banks to be a deeper part of their customer’s life journey, enabling stronger customer engagement and the ability to gain better customer insights, a report by finextra.com stated.

For instance, in the country, the United Bank of Nigeria Plc (UBA), through its REDTV, an online lifestyle network, last month, pulled together over 25,000 guests at its end of year party that was themed: “The shutdown.”

The event hosted the creative industry and other guests with top business executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities and A- Listers, entertainers, fashionistas and many young people just wanting to have a fun evening.

Prior to the event, the bank had organised a forum tagged the ‘Marketplace,’ that connected vendors from more than 20 countries. The event also brought together entrepreneurs from sectors such as entertainment, fashion, arts, among others.

In the same vein, Zenith Bank recently organised the second edition of its ‘Style by Zenith 2.0,’ an even that was focused on bringing the bank closer to its customers, while also providing support to them.

The Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, was among those that were in attendance.
Accompanied by top management staff of the bank, Ovia had expressed satisfaction at the turnout, more particularly the layout of the venue which was transformed into a fairground of some sort.

The event accommodated more than a 100 exhibitors from different segments of the lifestyle sector, from fashion vendors to food vendors, and other activities. There were also on display art works as well as a game arcade for children and adults who wanted to indulge in the pastime.

This bank also, during the year, the bank held its first ever music concert, Aspire Music Festival. The show held in Lagos attracted a large pool of millennials.

Also, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has been consistent with its fashion and food and drink shows, that were introduced to empower MSMEs in the sectors. At its last fashion weekend held in Lagos, the bank assembled some globally successful fashion designers and models who shared their experiences on building successful fashion brands.

The event had attracted fashion exhibitors and thousands of young and budding entrepreneurs that attended the master classes that were handled by some of the designers to learn from their experiences on building a successful fashion brand.

Commenting on the 2019 edition of the Fashion Weekend, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTB, Mr. Segun Agbaje, had said, “Ultimately, we see in the GTBank Fashion Weekend how we can create new pivots for our continent’s development by promoting enterprise.

“So, when we ring in the fourth edition of the biggest fashion event in Africa, our goal will be, not only to showcase the wealth of talent, innovation and enterprise that abound in our continent’s fashion space, but also to spark the kind of shared, sustainable and people-centred growth that Africa needs to achieve real progress.”

For Access Bank, after the maiden edition, the second edition of the Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST), held in Lagos last month.

Themed, “More for the Culture,” the 2019 BAFEST was a dynamic fusion of African art, film, fashion and music, attracting thousands of fun lovers from across Africa.

The festival commenced in the morning with the fashion, art and film park, where various artists, fashion designers and filmmakers showcased their works. It then got to a state that saw the fusion of music and fashion all on one stage. Fans were thrilled with music performances.

Commenting on the event and its significance, Access Bank GMD Herbert Wigwe, had explained that, “BAFEST is not just a means of providing quality entertainment to Africans, but a platform Access Bank has created to spotlight Africa through its enormous creativity and talents.

“We believe it is time the world knows the true story of Africa. I believe that this year’s BAFEST will further strengthen this new African narrative we are creating.”
Also, Sterling Bank Plc brought its stakeholders together recently, at its 2019 Champion of Jollof Master national culinary competition.

Benjamin Oni and Hauwa Onifade, emerged as the first and second runner up of the competition which was the seventh edition of its #EatDrinkFestival, held in Lagos, last month.

Announcing the winners, Group Head, Agriculture Finance and Export of the bank, Mrs. Bukola Awosanya, had said, “we are excited to institutionalise and curate the popular but largely informal Jollof conversations into a national culinary competition. Jollof rice unites Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, age and religion, online and offline. Beyond the usual social media banter, we provided a platform for talented Nigerians to create and serve amazing Jollof meals to thousands at the #EatDrinkFestival as part of our commitment to food security and the agriculture sector.

To support the lifestyle and provide convenience to its customers, FirstBank has provided the Firstmonie mobile solution, accessible through mobile phones for use in money transfers, bill payments, purchase of goods and services as well as cash deposits. Wema Bank also designed a platform, Alat, which is a marketplace for its customers, while Fidelity Bank through its SME fair organised last year created an atmosphere to engage with its retail customers in different sectors of the economy.

Conclusion
Therefore, as the lines between banking and lifestyle blur, financial institutions need to respond to consumers’ expectations to become part of their overall digital lifestyle.

According to a report by Finextra, what seems certain is that the disruption in the banking sector will continue.

It pointed out that banks that can transform themselves into truly effective organisations and embrace the changes in digital technologies and consumer behavior, will not only survive but also thrive in both the current and future digital environments.

“Therefore, in order to succeed, banks have to search for the best possible ways of tailoring the products and services to the 21st-century customers. It is all about understanding consumers’ motivations and preferences, as well as adding value by solving their problems,” the report noted.

Also, PwC, in a report, noted that powerful forces are transforming the retail banking industry.
However, it stressed that pace of change was increasing and banks need to do even more to ensure they are well-positioned to succeed in the future.

To succeed in the rapidly-changing landscape, banks were urged to develop a clear sense of the posture they wish to adopt – whether to shape the industry, rapidly follow the leaders, or manage defensively, putting off change.

“And they need to have a clear strategy to deal with these challenges and address these priorities, including considering partnerships with third parties and applying lessons from other industries.

“Of course, the level of focus on each of them depends both on a bank’s starting point, and its unique strengths and challenges.

“However, each priority is important, and success will come from a balanced execution across them – and a balance of tactical initiatives and longer term programmes, all coming together as an integrated whole,” it added.