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Issue #128 - Monzo on TikTok
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TikTok Case Study = Monzo
The old adage was that people were more likely to get divorced than change bank. Now that banking is all about the card and the app, things have changed. But banks still desire to acquire young customers, in the hope they stick around.
So it’s no surprise that financial services brands seem to have discovered TikTok.
There are a number of expensive looking loan companies running ads there now. Some - like Clearspring - are using TikTok grammar - the POV shot, the text lists building line by line and the creator pointing to the captions. All very native.
And Monzo is spending here too, with a Tiktok that gets that native grammar. Using the popular day in the life construct this TikTok has a Point of View shot as the 'creator' walks us through his day; the gym, the supermarket, the tube and eating out. The lo fi production and the format makes it feel native - and product details do get squeezed in at the end. With the distinctive pink card in shot the whole time, it’s certainly branded.
But as the comments all point out, the product is so generic. No differentiation or reason to apply. We celebrate brands that make the effort to fit TikTok as it's the best way to get attention. But the basic rules of advertising still apply - give the customers a reason to buy.
To be fair, Monzo do give good organic - they post a lot and are quick to pick up on memes, whilst still promoting product and features. They have almost 1 million likes (rivals Starling have 114k) so have a decent platform to build on.
It will be interesting to see how they approach their next ad.
Neobanks like Monzo, Revolut, and Starling are all taking to TikTok in order to reach their customers. Compared to traditional banks, the neobanks are going after younger audiences who have different consumer demands when it comes to financial services, technology, and user experience.
And at first glance, TikTok is exclusively their battleground.
Apart from this August 2021 press release from HSBC announcing that they will be using TikTok for an activation to reach university students, I couldn’t find an HSBC TikTok account. If you look up Barclays, you won’t find an official account but instead several videos from people criticizing the bank. There’s not much else you can find on TikTok about Lloyds, Standard Chartered, Jp Morgan Chase, Citi, or Bank of America.
On the flipside, you can find representation on TikTok from all the major neobanks (Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Chime). So I’d imagine that these younger fintechs see TikTok as an arbitrage opportunity. While they compete against the traditional banks in convincing young people to bank with them, TikTok seems primed for internecine competition between the neobanks.
This situation likely comes from the fact that traditional banks, for many legitimate reasons, may move slower in adopting new marketing channels and may have more to lose if they get things wrong.
And so you can see videos like the ones above from Monzo, utilizing TikTok in many lo-fi, practical ways. They demonstrate the value of the product through a first-person perspective of someone walking around the city and using the card. Their organic posts are everything from short meme remixes to funny jokes to simple demonstrations of the Monzo value proposition.
I can see the inspiration from Duolingo - Monzo doesn’t take itself too seriously and is really leaning into the sort of post-modern corporate brand image of trying to be your friend. To varying degrees, you can see similar approaches from Revolut, Starling, and Chime. Putting aside the actual product features, all of these brands have counter-positioned themselves as more relatable than your older generation of banks. And TikTok is the best place to continue that messaging.
Will that work? Well, it will likely work for at least one of the competing neobanks aiming to reach the TikTok audience. And until traditional banks (if ever) decide it’s worthwhile to compete on TikTok, the only competition will come from consumers deciding between neobanks.
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