Olson: Focus on Consumer Awareness

Survey results reveal need to boost public’s knowledge of CUs.

October 1, 2013

When a recent survey revealed poor consumer awareness of credit unions in the Dakotas, Jeff Olson realized “we had our work cut out for us.”

Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), addressed the 2013 American Association of Credit Union Leagues’ Communicators Conference in Chicago.

He described the results of a recent consumer awareness survey CUAD conducted that revealed:

  • 42% of consumers in North Dakota and South Dakota were unaware that credit unions offer mortgages;
  • 35% were unaware or didn't think credit unions offered online services;
  • 45% didn't know if credit unions offered credit cards; and
  • 44% thought credit unions were "for-profit" and another 28% were unsure.

"After seeing the survey results, we knew we had to focus on the awareness part of the process whereby consumers select financial institutions," said Olson. "We knew we had to focus on awareness, consideration, and selection."

CUAD implemented a campaign to convince consumers that credit unions offer the same basic services as banks, almost all consumers are eligible for membership somewhere, credit unions have money to lend, and credit unions are convenient and member-owned, Olson says.

To achieve those objectives, the association used public relations, social networking, community events, targeted mass media placements, and a car wrapped with advertising that promotes the consumer awareness website,