Brian O'Connor
Brian is Mintel Ireland’s Senior Consumer Analyst/Research Production Manager and has a broad focus across Leisure/Tourism, FMCG, Retail, Finance and Industrial sectors.

Ulster Bank customers in NI and RoI had a tough time of it in June 2012. Since the 20th June, the subdivision of RBS experienced a computer system error, which saw 100,000 customers across Ireland encounter problems when trying to access the money in their accounts, including the delay of wage and benefit payments.

During tough economic times, there is only so much that consumers can bear.

The Belfast Telegraph noted on the 29th June 2012 that rival operator Northern Bank has experienced a increase in the number of enquiries from Ulster Bank customers wishing to switch their accounts; to capitalise on the trend, Northern Bank launched an advertising campaign targeting consumers who are keen to switch to an alternative bank.

The campaign includes full-page newspaper advertisements that highlight the bank’s Saturday opening hours, as well as its dedicated account switching team.

Consumer attitudes to Northern Bank’s Advertising

Mintel’s recent report Attitudes to Advertising – Ireland, May 2012 notes that some 38% of NI and 45% of RoI consumers claim to pay attention to newspaper and magazine advertising, making this the second most effective method of advertising behind television (with three-quarters of Irish consumers paying attention to TV advertising). (Toluna 2012)

However, advertising via the internet may be a more effective means of targeting consumers looking to switch their accounts. The forthcoming Mintel report Irish Lifestyles – Ireland, June 2012 notes that around half of Irish consumers manage their finances online in 2012, while approximately a third of consumers also use the internet to seek out information on financial advice (via bank websites and price comparison websites). (Toluna 2012)

The Attitudes to Advertising – Ireland, May 2012 report further notes that readership levels of newspapers in NI and RoI have declined in the last decade, giving advertising via this medium less pull. Moving forward, it is likely that many banks and financial institutions will concentrate more of their advertising expenditure on online media, with advertising displayed on financial advice websites likely to become prime advertising space.