What CMC did to win over younger audiences to online share trading

How the pandemic has pivoted this online share trading company's brand strategy

As Australians endured the on-again/off-again lockdowns presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, many put their extra spare time into wealth creation by trading shares, currencies and other financial instruments.

In doing so, they provided an unexpected boost for online trading platforms around the world, including the local operations of UK-based financial services company, CMC Markets.

According to head of commercial for CMC Markets Asia-Pacific, Catherine Gallagher, the Australian share trading market has grown by more than 35 per cent from December 2020 to approximately 1.43 million unique individual online traders. Those new entrants have a very different profile to traditional investors, with Gallagher finding 64 per cent who started investing in the past six months were from Millennial and Generation Z cohorts.

“We have always had an eye on the younger audiences, given we want to offer access to the markets to all,” Gallagher told CMO. “That has given us a huge opportunity to review what our offering is and take a look at the new landscape and the new audiences that have come in.”

Winning over a new customer cohort

Bringing those audiences into CMC Markets presented a challenge for the company’s marketing team, who knew these audiences were notoriously hard to pin down through traditional media channels. Gallagher said CMC Markets has shifted a greater segment of its budget into digital and sponsored e-sports tournaments to widen its reach.

The company also revamped its brand positioning, including rebranding its share trading platform to CMC Markets Invest.

“It was really trying to understand that Millennial/Gen Z audience and doing quite a bit of research internally and with partners, looking at their motivations and differences in behaviour to the cohort we had seen prior,” Gallagher said.

“They have less brand loyalty, along with less emphasis on financial strength and established brands when they are making their financial decisions. The UX piece and the low fee piece is almost overtaking that in terms of importance for this audience.”

CMC Markets’ task also included examining how these new investors sourced their information. It proved a challenging task in an era where ‘fin-fluencers’ are drawing attention away from more traditional information sources and so-called meme stocks are grabbing the attention of retail investors.

“It is something that has been emerging,” Gallagher said. “It wasn’t just the last 18 months, but it has been fuelled by these new entrants and the growth overall in the market.”

For Gallagher, the goal has been to tap into the enthusiasm and energy of these trends but do so in a way that reflects CMC Markets’ value proposition as a platform for longer-term investments and building a portfolio, backed by customer service and a smooth onboarding process.

“We wanted to tap into the emotion over the past few years in meme stocks and other things that were happening really, really fast,” Gallagher said. “The creative challenge was to put something out there that really screamed accessibility and the value message, which is something we have always shouted about, but also retained a level of credibility in terms of the support side of things.”

The result was a fully integrated campaign based on the idea, ‘Think. Invest’ which rolled out across both traditional and digital media, including large format out-of-home and street furniture, as well as podcast sponsorships.

“’Invest’ talks more to long term financial future,” Gallagher said. “In the past, we were well known for trading, so we really wanted to pull back to that longer term view. And ‘Invest’ for us is clean and simple and modern.”

The company also launched a new mobile app, providing easy access to information and support, to reinforce CMC Market’s ease-of-use proposition.

“It is in our blood to be pretty adaptable,” Gallagher added. “We never set and forget from a campaign or strategy level. So hopefully can weather the next couple of years as well.”

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