This thesis provides an explorative journey into the field of female perception of integrated marketing communications (IMC) in the financial sector, in order to provide a first attempt at defining critical steps for banks to build better brand equity among female customers. A qualitative methodology was applied with in-depth, semi-structured interviews as the empiri-cal basis for the study. Nine women between the age of 40 and 55 were interviewed, provid-ing their subjective experience of banking communication, and subsequently these interviews were analysed with a focus on meaning interpretation. The findings included interviewees being particularly unhappy about communication with their advisors. Previous experience made the interviewees doubtful about the advisors’ ability to understand their life-world and resulting preferences, hence deteriorating their reliability as advisors. This did to some extent make the women uncomfortable with their bank as a service provider and generally rated the women’s service quality experience as low, particularly when they met in a bank office. It did however appear that the convenience of being in a homely, informal setting that made the women feel at ease while doing online banking business online made them feel more comfortable with the situation and thus more pleased with the service they received. Hence the main origin of banks’ image and brand equity for the interviewed women came from the one-to-one interaction they had – personally or electronically - with their banks in the service production process, rather than through advertising or other mass approaches to communications. Resulting from the above findings, the main recommendation of the thesis points toward managing a bank’s brand equity as a holistic process in which not only “traditional” IMC, but more so the inside movements and staff culture plays large part of the overall brand. The cen-tral practical implication of this is that banks should shift some of their resources from out-ward-directed mass communication to inward-directed staff education, so that all staff, re-gardless of age, seniority or organisational level is highly brand-literate and understands and reflects fully on the brand and knows how he or she is to manifest it in his or her daily cus-tomer interaction. The current lack of scholarly research in the area of female perception of IMC in the service sector underpins that more research must be carried out on this field in order to gain a deeper and more thorough understanding of it. For now, this study provides a first valuable insight into financial services brand management, encouraging the employment of more focus on services brand building from the inside-out.
|Uddannelser||Cand.merc.bcm Brand and Communications Management, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling|