The Sandwich Generation
By Christopher W. Pinkham
This issue of the Maine Community Banker looks at the subject of customer demographics: who is the target audience and who is the customer of the future? We realize that bankers need to know more about their customer base. What about Maine’s community banks? If they can identify their customers, then shouldn’t this information help to increase their share of the market?
Examples are varied. The rural bank in areas of the state with older housing stock may benefit from a campaign to “fix up and winterize.” The high tourist area bank may profit by specializing in seasonal properties, both residential second homes and seasonal businesses. The urban/suburban bank may have a more attractive audience for 24/7 Internet-based banking. At the same time, a college town may benefit from the student/parent loan business (my personal favorite).
Incidentally, why use the title Sandwich Generation? That’s how I feel about being a bank demographic! We owe for the addition to our home; we’re bankrolling college tuition payments, trying to maintain a small fleet of automobiles and working with in-laws and outlaws to evaluate retirement living communities. Wow – we must be the targets of every marketing office, but in reality we may fall between the cracks because unless someone pays attention to the demographics, we’re just another account at multiple bank locations.
We are employed homeowners, sandwiched between tuition payments and senior citizen brochures. Ideally, we could enjoy one-stop shopping at one financial institution but human behavior (spread the money and our business around) and convenience (location-location-location) send us in multiple directions. The challenge to bankers in 2005 and beyond is to recognize these varied needs, identify their strengths in products and services and then find those customers.
Hey bankers, we’re over here, buried under the pile of bills!
Christopher W. Pinkham is president of the Maine Association of Community Banks.