Credit Card Marketing Tactics to Address Consumer Fear About the Economy

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illustration of consumer fretting over financial pressures. figure is sitting in a chair surrounded by bills and other financial statements on a green background.

Unfortunately, financial pressures have not eased for consumers in recent months. In fact, worries about spending and budgets may be increasing again, fueled by inflation and other national/global factors. And just as they did during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial services brands must adjust how they address consumer needs and revise messaging to reflect how their products and services meet the current moment.

Credit card marketing, in particular, offers financial institutions an opportunity to nurture existing customer relationships and appeal to new consumers during this time.

As it reports on consumer anxiety, a recent Ipsos white paper (“Navigating Consumer Uncertainty in Turbulent Economic Times”) encourages brands to “brace for increased competition for share of wallet.” However, it also offers guidance for how to “generate value, connect to consumer needs, resonate with current emotional states” and, yes, “win market share.”

We found three Ipsos insights most relevant to credit card marketing, and below, our experts share action items that can help FIs respond to the economic stressors impacting consumers.

Ipsos insight
Consumers react to financial insecurity with fear and adjust spending accordingly by delaying, curbing, reprioritizing and bucketing (necessities vs. discretionary).

What we recommend
Identify and promote card benefits and features that are already in place. Looking to be good partners during these uncertain times, FIs can get ahead of any future negative emotions through a series of communications regarding

  • educational tools and financial management resources
  • new or under-promoted opportunities to use cards (e.g., rent, utilities, etc.)
  • payment controls, like card-based installment plans for unexpected purchases/needs
  • continuing value of rewards and cashback
  • ability to keep earning rewards* even while deferring their use on items like travel

Ipsos insight
Since consumer tendency is to feel “stuck” in times of economic turbulence, new options and variety are appealing.

What we recommend
Develop a plan for retention. This is especially important based not only on the Ipsos insight but also on a more active credit card acquisition environment.

We recommend identifying and monitoring anti-attrition behaviors so you can properly execute a retention strategy. This should include implementing and communicating attractive offerings like lower APRs, rate sales, reviews of/increases to line of credit, ability to defer a bill payment for one month and “Surprise and Delight” perks for high value customers.

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Ipsos insight
Consumer strategies for increasing their perceived ability to manage resources include stockpiling necessities and consuming based on nostalgia, connection and comfort.

What we recommend
Align credit card offers with these instincts. For example, use offers at top ranking merchants or high spend MCCs to help consumers stockpile at places like grocery stores and drugstores. (FIs can turn to portfolio analytics to identify and customize offers for specific stores and services.)

In addition, allow the attraction of nostalgia and comfort items like food to inspire custom offers. Be sure to customize to specific cohorts or demographics, since one size does not fit all. (Nostalgia is irrevocably tied to age, for instance.)

Possibilities include

  • nostalgia-based offers, such as tickets to reunion music tours, retro graphic t-shirt giveaways and discounts at stores like Rough Trade, a popular online vinyl store
  • comfort food-based offers informed by psychographics of customer portfolios, including discounts at convenience stores or free menu items as QSRs (targeted at heads of household with children or subprime cardholders) and local, upscale dining offers (for premium cardholder or high value banking customers).

*This is most relevant for cards with no caps/no expiration.

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