As my personal situation takes me on the route to becoming a SIF, not a Structural Integrity Field (for the Star Trek fans) but a single income family, it strikes me how much of a communications opportunity this is, and how little work is really done, either on turning these sort of challenges into comms opportunities, or beyond that into looking at real behavioural-lifestyle segmentation to try and better target both products and messaging. This isn’t about being short of cash, or stuggling to pay the bills at the end of the month and watching the credit card fees mount up, but about understanding the psychological shift that must take place where one individual gives up a large part of their independence and the other must take on additional responsibility for them – alongside this mental change there is also the more practical aspect of how money is shared between the couple and transfered from account to account and wallet to wallet. Already I can see your eyes opening up and the light bulb above your head switching on – there is an opportunity to communicate to the breadwinner about how they should be helping out, an opportunity for banks to develop new products (beyond the simple joint account) and even a potential way to create a whole new dynamic for home based and part-time work.
When I look back to the era of my grandparents, I remember that the SIF was the norm, and my grandmother got ‘housekeeping money’:
the money used for buying food and other things necessary for living in a house (from Cambridge Dictionary)
It would appear that today this is slowly going out of fashion, as it tends to imply that the housewife is a salaried labourer and hence there becomes a question of what should and shouldn’t be paid for. The advent of joint bank accounts have surely been a boon for the financial services sector, as they cater perfectly to this challenge and also create an ease to spending, as they allow the non-earning partner to dip in as and when they please – whether this was a genius of insight or simply a quick solution to product development we’ll never know, but I’m sure that bank marketers will claim the former.
So as this opportunity exists, I will have my eyes open to see how brands are using it communicate adapted messages to my family and I as the target group. What innovations have you seen for the SIF?