In 2021, HSBC Indonesia felt the need to reconnect with its target audience to stay relevant and achieve growth. Amid a global pandemic and with the support of its research partner, InSites Consulting, the bank harnessed design thinking, supercharged by an online community, to achieve its objectives.
Having successfully implemented projects built around both methodologies previously, the team at InSites Consulting knew that design thinking and online communities shared synergies that differ to traditional research. The former tasks itself with giving people greater agency to shape the products or experiences in their lives, whilst the latter (especially in a branded context), aim to give people more say in how their ideas and feedback shape brands.
This dual approach helped HSBC to achieve customer-centricity with its customers in Indonesia. The bank successfully developed relevant ways to position its solutions by uncovering the most important personas for each category, and importantly, getting to know the real people represented by those personas. HSBC also developed new products and services for these segments. The project directly resulted in an 8.5% growth in wealth penetration and a 6% increase in total brand awareness.
Creating a better world
HSBC has a long history in Indonesia, a country that is at the heart of the ‘rise of Asia’ story. Its brand purpose, to ‘open up a world of opportunity for customers, and to help to create a better world’, mirrors the optimism of Indonesians who, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, remain confident that the country will overcome its challenges to realise long-term opportunities.
Like many brands, HSBC want to achieve customer-centricity in this VUCA world. In 2021 the brand felt the need to reconnect with its target audience in order to stay relevant and achieve growth. However, the Indonesian market is complex. It is a young emerging nation that is home to a diverse, tech-driven, rapidly urbanising population. Adding to the complexity facing HSBC was of course the global pandemic and the challenge to achieve customer-centricity in its midst.
In essence, HSBC’s objectives in Indonesia were to:
Develop relevant ways to position both its ‘Advance’ (serving the Emerging Affluent segment) and ‘Premier’ (serving the Affluent/Mass Affluent segment) solutions;
Develop relevant new products and services for these segments.
HSBC wanted to go beyond demographics and perceptions to get to know its customers better. The brand needed to understand the reality of how seriously COVID-19 was impacting people in Indonesia, with regards to health and the economy.
The team turned to its long-standing research partner, InSites Consulting, to collaborate with the 1200 members of the HSBC Indonesia online community, Satukan Pandangan (Connecting Views), which was set up by InSites Consulting in 2018. The agency recommended that HSBC harness a design thinking approach (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) supercharged by the online community platform.
The Satukan Pandangan online community managed by InSites Consulting was the backbone of this project, connecting HSBC with hundreds of customers in Indonesia who had been regularly engaging with the brand since 2018. The platform empowered iterative and agile research, from monthly tactical activities to more strategic programs. It is this agility that was paramount to conducting impactful and effective research during the pandemic, at a time when the global landscape was changing rapidly.
For each proposition, Advance and Premier, the same approach was taken by the team at InSites Consulting.
After using a profiling survey to confirm the core target for each proposition, customers fitting the profile were invited into forum discussions on the community platform and one-on-one virtual interviews. The findings were expressed as consumer personas, which revealed how Indonesian’s values, attitudes and tensions affect banking needs and expectations. Beyond demographic and behavioural data, the personas were a reminder that the target segments were real people.
The people behind the personas
InSites Consulting identified five personas for the Advance proposition and six for the Premier proposition, based on how proactive or reactive Indonesians were to managing their wealth, and the extent to which their finance needs focused on themselves or those around them.
Based on the identified behaviours, attitudes and values, HSBC were able to understand how the different personas were distributed among Indonesian general banking customers.
Inspired by the personas identified, InSites Consulting connected the HSBC team to connect with real people over Zoom in digital workshops, allowing them to harness an understanding of their values, needs, attitudes, motivations, and to generate opportunities in the form of design thinking ‘how might we’ statements. 30 stakeholders from the HSBC marketing team set out to connect the brand to its customers. This approach was critical to bring insights to life for the marketing team, who could connect and empathise with the needs of each persona.
The opportunities that arose in the workshops were used by InSites Consulting to guide ideation and proposition development. Opportunities were prioritised and propositions were crafted to address the needs and tensions for each persona.
The concepts developed were presented back to the community members via surveys to test both the creative and the benefits for each persona.
From personas to propositions
By uncovering the most important personas for each category and getting to know the real people represented by those personas, HSBC were able to develop relevant ways to position its Advance and Premier solutions to Indonesians. The bank also developed relevant new products and services for these segments. For example, the largest persona in the Advance category, the Builders, became the focus of a new positioning. These customers were anxious about protecting their family’s health and wealth and as such HSBC needed to protect this segment from financial shocks, whilst helping grow family wealth. The new proposition offered a comprehensive financial solution for a strong future, with emphasis on building the family’s future through investments and insurance solutions.
The Happy Queen persona was central to the HSBC Premier solution. The Happy Queen (sometimes a King) is responsible for managing the home finances and ensuring children get the best education. Education and wealth pillars are equally important for the Happy Queens. As such, the HSBC Premier proposition focused largely on this persona by following a theme of overseas support and education. Practically, this included providing Premier status for children away from home to access services and currencies all around the world.
Using a design thinking framework helped to guide multiple stakeholders all the way from listening to customers’ needs, to crafting customer-centric propositions. Moreover, using an insight community alongside digital workshops helped to supercharge the design thinking process, bringing exploration and validation together with agility.
The persona project gave HSBC a whole new perspective on its customers and target audience. The team were able to see customers as real people and gain a deep understanding of their needs, pain points, and more importantly, how the bank should better position its propositions to each persona.
As a direct result of the research, HSBC restructured the way branch teams approach customers and prospects I.e., based on their personas. HSBC created a map of what the Premier proposition can bring to each of the personas to support this. As a result, the branch teams can pick and choose the most relevant features for each of the personas.
This project was the first time that HSBC engaged in persona work, hence the significance of the findings on the success of the business.