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Young Super Punks and Glass Towers

Back in 2009 when Cruelty Free Super was first conceived, I hardly thought that there would be enough of the broken mould left for other people to use to produce their own boutique Superfunds.  I thought I might be breaking the mould with the way Cruelty Free Super was structured, but until the fund was launched I hadn’t appreciated just how innovative it was.

On 10/10/10 (the launch date for Cruelty Free Super) it was unheard of for a Superfund to be set up from scratch, to target a very specific part of the population, to have an investment strategy that met the needs of the target group and to only use social media as the promotion and marketing outlet.  Before this, Superfunds were offered by huge financial companies operating from glass towers in the CBD, pushing products designed by actuaries and marketing folk who were never likely to meet the end customer.  Producing expensive TV adverts shouting about their fantastic Superfund was about as far as ‘engaging the customer’ ever went.

For Cruelty Free Super, the starting point was the customer, not the normal financial services product.  If Cruelty Free Super didn’t produce what the customer wanted then it had no right to exist.  So, having established that vegetarians, vegans and those concerned with animal welfare had no Superfund that met their values, the first job was to set out the ethical criteria.  By default, the majority of people who are active in the animal welfare arena tend to be younger so normal advertising wasn’t going to work.  Cruelty Free Super had to use a ‘new’ way of getting to people and the demographic dictated that using social media was the way forward. Stage 2 was to create a regulated Superannuation product that people could rely on and trust.  Thankfully, we found some great partners to help us achieve this.

It took a few years before the industry started to notice what Cruelty Free Super was doing and then all of the companies rushed to social media to engage with their members.  The problem is that they used social media to just shout the same old message in the same old way.  There was nothing in their digital messages about the needs of members, no attempt to find out what members (new and prospective) might actually want, just same old, same old.  All the time Cruelty Free Super continued to demonstrate that a genuine member-focussed financial product could inspire member advocates and loyalty.

Since 2010 there have been many campaigns aimed at trying to get more people engaged with their Super, not just drop into the standard employer default fund, and much of this was aimed at getting women more engaged.  Hmmm, not sure that shouting about financial returns (they are important of course) and using happy smiley actors in the advertising is the way to engage women. At Cruelty Free Super we didn’t set up to engage with one age group, sex etc, we just set out to raise awareness about the cruelty supported by the finance industry and to offer a way of investing for retirement without investing in cruelty.  This, in itself, created a growing interest in people engaging with their Super and, I am really pleased to say, around 70% of our members are women and most have become engaged with Super for the first time.  Result!

We didn’t spend hundreds of glass-tower hours and hundreds of thousands of TV dollars trying to convince people to buy yet another financial product.  Instead, we simply created a product for a particular group, talked to them about why they should link their personal values to how their Super is invested and, surprise surprise, the engagement began and people started to move their Super to Cruelty Free Super.

It is quite gratifying to see other ‘young punks’ of the Super world entering the market and repeating many of the ground breaking ideas established by Cruelty Free Super.  We wish Good Super, Future Super and Spaceship success in their own attempts to provide a Superannuation product for their target members so we can all chip away at the glass towers.

This post was inspired by the following article:

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