Again this year, I attended the GTBank Fashion Weekend. It was a place to be and be seen in Lagos, especially as Nigeria has a dearth of places you can go to with your family to have a relaxing time. It was also open to all people across the socio-economic spectrum, which was good. My observation is that many banks do not open their events to all of their customers, which I believe should be addressed. I was impressed by what I saw and experienced in terms of the high street theme, the esthetics and displays which were an improvement from last year.
There was an international flavor to the whole event, with the master classes, run way shows, locations for photographs and strategically placed mannequins, etc. It was really well organized.
I must commend the bank for supporting small and medium enterprises. Many of the companies I patronize online had their goods displayed. The bank also surpassed itself in the quality and quantity of social media and direct marketing it did for the event. Many enterprises had high quality graphics advertising their businesses designed for them and sent to them to advertise to their customers and communities. I also learnt that the selection of vendors was done randomly at no cost to the vendors. Again, this is commendable. More organizations should give a thought to GTBank’s example and give back to their customers and communities.
One of the things, I always tell banks, is the fact that many of their customers do not think they support them enough. Many bank customers have said, the banks are not interested in their welfare. They complain that to get a loan to grow their business is a herculean task at very competitive rates. After the loans are given, relationship officers are only out to collect money. They feel no support whatsoever is given in ensuring their businesses thrive and become more viable for the mutual benefit of both – bank and organisation.
So, GTBank consistently providing this platform to its customers every year is an example other banks should emulate. According to Frontstream, “companies that take an active role in giving back to their customers and communities are generally viewed more favorably than those that do not have highly visible programs. Having goals and a vision for your company that go beyond products and profits definitely provides a warmer image of your business that consumers will be more eager to engage with”. Can we attribute this fact to why GTBank’s customer base is so large? Food for thought!
I interviewed customers who attended and like in all good things, there is always room for improvement. Many commented that the vendors on display were too “high end”, meaning too expensive. In view of this, they found it difficult to buy anything. It was therefore a sightseeing expedition instead of it being an opportunity to see a variety of goods and be able to purchase items at an affordable rate.
I remember last year, on display were vendors who sold good quality clothes, nice bags (Made in Nigeria), jewelry, shoes, etc that you could get at very affordable prices. It was not the case this year and if they were, maybe those I spoke to did not see them and neither did I. The bank may want to see how this gap can be bridged. I like the idea of raising the bar and bringing in high end retailers to the fair, but since the bank caters to people across the socio-economic spectrum, this demographic must be considered in the selection of vendors.
An observation was that the area designated as food court was not adequate. There was also not without enough variety of snacks and food to buy. Since the experience is meant to be some form of retail therapy and many see going to the fair as a family outing or friends hanging out, the bank may want to consider how they make it a lot more relaxing for attendees. Last year, after shopping, I had to go to Hardrock Café next door for rest and relaxation because I really shopped till I dropped and needed to celebrate the bargains I had gotten.
The size of the booths is another area for improvement, which I may not be completely correct about but I felt that the booths were too small. Since, I did not measure them, I cannot be certain of this; I however, felt everywhere was cramped. It is either the fact that the booths were too many this year or the size of the booths were reduced, because we were almost stepping on each other and on customers in the next booth as we shopped. Then again, it may be that there were a lot more people in attendance than last years’ which gives this illusion.
In conclusion, I believe GTBank has impacted its community very positively and should continue for more effective engagement with its customers and stakeholders, which is supported by research. A 2014 study by Nielsen revealed that “55% of consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.” Additional research from Cone Communications/Echo Global showed “90 percent of shoppers worldwide are likely to switch to brands that support a good cause.”
In addition, a company’s greatest asset is its people. According to Jack Welch, the famous CEO behind GE’s monumental growth, “You build the best team, you win.” Companies with published impact initiatives have an easier time recruiting talent. According to the Net Impact’s What Workers Want report, 45% of employees would take a 15% pay cut for a job that makes a social or environmental impact. Another 51% of workers say that helping “make a better world” and making a “contribution to society” are essential for their ideal job.
GTBank is on a winning streak and should continue to improve on the good the bank is doing.