HSBC’s Andrea Newman: ‘Women do not want to be singled out as different’

Women prefer financial marketing to focus on life choices rather than technical specifics, but don’t fall into the trap of singling out women as ‘different’, says HSBC’s global head of marketing Andrea Newman


Q. When targeting women or mothers, what do you find is the most effective approach?

We’ve always had a more emotional, storytelling approach when it comes to our marketing communications, whether it be to mothers who are our commercial banking customers or mothers who are customers of our private bank.

We haven’t specifically sought out to target women or mothers, though, rather we strive to talk to individuals whether it be in their professional or personal lives, whatever their sex, nationality or political persuasion.

As a working mother myself, I think brands can differentiate themselves by looking at their customer experience rather than just their marketing. I believe service brands that extend their opening hours, for example, will have a much greater effect on the lives of their customers, whether they be working mothers or fathers. 

Q. How do you use data to better understand your customers and women/families in particular?

Our data has told us in the past that women do not want to be singled out as different. What they do want is to be treated with equal respect and gravitas from our advisors and staff.  

We know women prefer financial marketing materials to allude more to life choices rather than technical specifics, and we do this anyway. For example, in marketing for HSBC Premier, our positioning is centred around the idea of one’s ‘personal economy’ and understanding our customers’ financial lives in totality, including business, homes, family, legacy and all the overlapping that takes place.  

As everyone’s personal economy is as unique to them as their fingerprint, the importance of these segments is dialled up or down dependent on the customer and their own values rather than us imposing ‘you’re a woman so you value family more’ type decisions on them.  

Q. How do you segment mums/women in your marketing activity?

As the majority of our marketing leadership at HSBC are mothers, perhaps our input into marketing activity is more innate than premeditated. We do not, to the best of my knowledge, segment mums as I don’t believe ‘mums’ are a group all on their own; surely you can then segment mums into countless types of mum. Of course, they have similar physical and emotional experiences of bringing up children but I also believe they have as many dissimilar characteristics.

Q. How do mums/women differ from other groups you communicate with and how is this reflected?  

We know women are more risk averse than men (whether this files down to ‘mums’ specifically, I don’t know) which does have some impact on the products and services they buy, especially within retail and Premier banking but this does not change the way we communicate.  

We have found that women tend to want to discuss their wider family life with our Premier relationship managers, perhaps more than men, as this is a form of relationship building. Women tend to value more emotional connections with their relationship managers than perhaps men do, however ultimately both men and women want the same outcome – support for their families and securing their families’ futures.  

Women tend to want more reassurance that they are making the right financial decisions from their relationship managers, but ultimately it is our job to help our customers achieve their hopes and dreams by understanding and meeting their needs as individuals.

Andrea will be speaking at Mumsnet’s third annual Mumstock event on 15 March. Marketing Week is an official media partner.

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