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Introducing Credit Union Awareness & Perception Study

Welcome! This is the first article in a series that explores how consumers perceive Missouri credit unions. To test the awareness and perception of credit unions, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) funded in-person focus groups and launched a comprehensive online survey.

The focus groups took place in four major markets: Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis, and the online survey collected 578 responses. After weeding through more than 500 pages of raw data, we gathered several pieces of information that we believe could shape the way you market and communicate with members and nonmembers. We will feature these findings as a series in The Missouri Difference, our weekly online newsletter. The series will be called CU Perceptions. 


In 2011, MCUA commissioned a phone survey of 705 adults in Missouri to gather feedback on the economy, the bailout, elections and their primary financial institution. The phone survey was designed to gauge the willingness of nonmembers to switch to a credit union. After discovering that interest in joining a credit union nearly doubled after consumers learn what credit unions offer, MCUA decided to invest in a statewide consumer awareness campaign called Bank On More.

The plan was to conduct another survey after Bank On More had been in market for two years to report on credit union awareness. MCUA launched this second survey in December 2014. We were faced with difficult decisions like should we use the same questions, research firm and methodology? Ultimately, we decided no, no and no. The questions from 2011 were no longer relevant to today's world. The bank bailouts are old news, and questions about energy, health care and inflation didn't seem relevant to Missouri credit unions. The firm we originally used is based in Washington D.C., and we wanted to keep the job local and cost-effective. Lastly, the methodology and target markets had also changed drastically since 2011. The demise of landlines made it seem impossible to get anyone to answer an unknown caller on their cell phone, and today's consumers are not likely to spend 30 minutes on a phone call, answering questions about their banking habits. In addition, the 2011 survey included respondents up to 64 years old, which is far outside the target market that Bank On More addressed.  

Instead of duplicating the 2011 survey, we moved forward and tested 18-40 year-olds to gather qualitative and quantitative data through focus groups and an online survey. 

"Comparing apples to apples in this instance would have made our survey dated and irrelevant to what we're trying to accomplish," says Liz Adams, SVP Member Relations. "A lot can change in four years, and we had to adapt in order to deliver great data that our credit unions could use moving forward. While we do have some comparisons between the surveys, the true value is in the new information that we've collected."   

MCUA is excited to share consumer insights with member credit unions in the new series CU Perceptions. Check The Missouri Difference for upcoming articles.