Big Society Capital & Ethex: Understanding the new social investor

The social investment marketplace is one of the fastest growing sectors of financial services, although remains relatively niche amongst retail savers and investors. Ethex, sponsored by Big Society Capital, sought to understand how to grow the sector amongst mass market savers.

How does IFF illuminate the facts with research?

The three key goals of the programme were:

  • Developing a clearer understanding of who current savers and investors are; providers don’t know much about their customers currently.
  • Understanding what is motivating current investors; simply saying customers want to ‘do good’ does not provide the full picture.]
  • Measure what the potential for the market is at a national level, and how develop key messages to encourage further take up and growth in the sector.

The programme sought to explore the motivations current social investors have to engage with the market, and then tested the propensity to have these motivations amongst a national audience. The research objective is to understand both the potential national market, as well as the key messages needed to encourage engagement amongst potential investor segments.

The questionnaire design process included as assessment of behavioural elements including consumer biases towards investment, and self-identification with a variety of potential motivators.

Our recommended methodology was to survey 2000 customers drawn from database of 40 positive savings / investments providers, then use data from this survey used to develop a segmentation of key attitudes and motivations of current savers.

We then conducted a nationally representative survey of 2000 (unindebted) consumers to understand the market potential, size segments in the population and understand the key motivators at a national level.

The findings have been used to strategically guide the development of the UK’s social savings and investment market. Key findings were also presented to the industry at the 2017 MRS Financial Services Conference.

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