Meanwhile, D2C companies are looking through the other end of the telescope. They are yet to create the brand equity required to qualify as household names, but some are more determined to do that as the sector consolidates.
HL doubled its marketing investment in 2020 to extend awareness beyond the more engaged investors. It has recently made TV ads with the tag line ‘invest today, thank yourself later’. Digital marketing remains central to all D2C companies’ recruitment campaigns, but HL is taking a multi-media approach these days.
Similarly, Vanguard launched its first branding campaign in 2020 which has supported very impressive customer growth. It has borrowed Churchill’s V-sign as a visual representation of its low-cost, ‘V for value’ philosophy.
Fidelity has been more consistent with brand activity over a number of years and it continues that strategy with its existing campaign on life moments; while AJ Bell is committed to high profile sport sponsorship, like Sale Sharks.
Meanwhile the banks have a slightly different challenge because while they are definitely household names, their investment businesses are not as well recognised. However, they can promote them to millions of internal customers through online channels and in branches. It’s hard to know whether the sub-brand route will work best for them – like Marcus from Golman Sach – or whether it’s more about integration into the main brand.
The D2C companies that kept up marketing throughout 2020 were rewarded by impressive new customer numbers. Over the longer term, online investing can only grow if more people recognise and trust the service providers. That will require bigger brands than exist in the space today.