Headquartered in Toronto, with more than 2,300 locations and 74,000 employees worldwide, The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Financial Group (TD). TD Bank Financial Group is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves more than 18 million customers in four key businesses, operating in a number of locations in key financial centres around the globe: Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Canada Trust and TD Insurance; Wealth Management, including TD Waterhouse and an investment in TD Ameritrade; U.S. Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD Bank Financial Group also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with more than six million online customers.
TD is committed to building an inclusive environment where all employees and customers feel welcomed and respected. As part of its corporate diversity strategy, one of TD’s key priorities is to be recognized by the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community as their bank of choice. TD views this community as an important part of its customer base. The International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce estimates that Canada includes two million LGBT consumers with spending power of $100 billion.
Since 2007, TD has been working with external research partners to conduct multiple research studies and collect data on the LGBT customer segment. Different research tools have been used, including focus groups, interviews and surveys. Focus groups and interviews were useful in helping to identify and explore, in depth, issues of concern. Surveys help determine how widespread a particular issue or set of attributes might be in a community.
Why consider collecting data?
Various factors led TD to collect data about the LGBT community, including:
- A desire to be recognized by the LGBT community as the bank of choice
- A desire to better serve LGBT customers
- A desire to better understand the attitudes and preferences, product and service needs of the LGBT community
- A desire to identify meaningful community initiatives to support.
Goals of collecting data
The key goals of collecting data were to help TD:
- Identify key issues of concern to the LGBT community
- Measure the LGBT community’s awareness of Canada’s major banks and the likelihood of LGBT customers doing business with these banks
- Determine which financial institution, if any, is the bank of choice in the LGBT community
- Examine perceptions of the service received and the overall customer experience of the LGBT community when dealing with Canada’s major banks
- Determine responses of community members to potential advertising campaigns.
Facing the challenges
TD faced the following challenges in planning the focus groups, interviews and surveys:
- The difficulty of locating and encouraging the participation of LGBT persons – and doing so within budget and time constraints
- for example, TD found that the LGBT population was fairly small (estimates are that 2% of the population identify as LGBT), and some members of the community are reluctant to identify themselves as LGBT
- The need to make sure that research questions used in the focus groups, interviews and surveys were worded in an appropriate and sensitive way
- A recognition that surveys tended to focus on people living in larger Canadian cities because of budget constraints and the fact that larger urban centres have larger LGBT communities. Research done in this way can over-represent individuals living in large urban centres, which must be kept in mind when interpreting results
- Concerns about the use, privacy and confidentiality of the information being collected
- The need to generate sufficient data to develop a strong business case to get buy-in from senior leaders and other stakeholders in the organization that would be responsible for playing a key role in decision-making, planning, communicating and implementing of the data collection initiatives.
Preparing for data collection initiative
To address the above challenges, before collecting data through focus groups, interviews and surveys, TD:
- Launched a formal diversity strategy that was aligned with its corporate Guiding Principles, Leadership Profile and action-oriented plans which showed a serious commitment to creating and supporting an inclusive, equitable and welcoming organizational culture for employees, customers and clients
- Made promoting and enhancing an inclusive environment for LGBT customers, clients and employees a Diversity Priority
- Hired various external research partners based on their experience with the LGBT community and capacity to conduct the necessary range of quantitative and qualitative data collection approaches
- Worked with an internal employee advisory committee including LGBT employees across all levels of TD, to get feedback on the challenges, provide advice on the recommended approach and inform decision-making
- Engaged senior leaders across TD throughout the process to address decision-making, planning, communicating and implementing the data collection research projects
- Worked in partnership with the research organization to set the appropriate number of surveys to allow for reliable results and conclusions
- Paid careful attention to the wording of all survey questions, to make sure the language was appropriate and neutral, making changes along the way based on participants’ reactions/responses to key questions
- As in all marketing research carried out by, or on behalf of, TD, potential participants were assured, up front, that: participation was voluntary; the research was to be conducted per the guidelines of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA); and that their input would be dealt with in a strictly confidential manner. Details regarding data storage and access are not normally offered at this stage in the research process.
Administering the data collection initiative
Under the guidance of TD, an external research firm developed and programmed the survey instruments, posted them online and analyzed the results between October 2007 and October 2008. Respondents were members of an online panel, sent e-mail invitations by the researchers, and assured their responses would be confidential and anonymous.
Among most research surveys undertaken by financial service institutions, it is general practice to screen out people who work in financial Institutions. However, due to the small population size of the target market, occupation screening was not included here.
Each study included enough surveys to make sure that results are statistically reliable so that all observations and conclusions could be made with a high level of confidence.
The research firm conducted two studies using an online self-administered survey among Canadian adults aged 18 and older who identify as LGBT. The first study was done in the fall of 2007 and the second study was done in the spring of 2008. Approximately 550 people participated in each survey.
The survey research was designed to assess the following areas:
- Ratings on several factors that help “drive” the brand:
- Awareness of TD and other banks: When you think of companies that offer financial products and services, which bank comes to mind?
- Likelihood to do business with TD and other banks: When you are in need of a new bank account or credit card, which bank would you choose?
- Identifying bank of choice: If you had to choose a bank to do business with, which bank would you choose?
- The ability of TD to resolve LGBT customer problems
- Improvement opportunities
- Financial goals and banking habits
Another research study was conducted to specifically assess perceptions of advertising and connect and communicate with members of the LGBT community. This study was set up in the context of an online study and involved 960 people viewing and assessing six different ads.
TD asked the following types of questions after showing a mock-up of an LGBT ad that might appear in a newspaper:
- Did you see the ad and did it register with you?
- Was there an association with TD?
- Did viewers take away the right message -- that TD is a progressive bank dedicated to taking care of all Canadians?
- Is the ad different from the ads of other financial Institutions?
- How did the ad make you feel?
- Was the ad relevant and believable?
- Did the ad make you change your attitude towards TD?
In the first online self-administered survey study, the final sample consisted of 63% gay, 27% lesbian, 11% bisexual and <1% transgender persons. In the second study, the final sample consisted of 43% gay, 18% lesbian, 39% bisexual and 2% transgender people.
For both online self-administered survey studies, analysis of results included:
- Percentage results for each question asked
- Comparison of results between gay vs. lesbian vs. bisexual sub-groups; the results from participants that self-identified as transgender were too small to draw a meaningful comparison
- Comparison of results between the two study periods
- Analysis showing what service elements had the most impact on bank preference.
While financial institutions have not in general had a strong presence within Canada’s LGBT community, TD believed that it was among the leaders. Both online surveys confirmed this. Among the findings were the following:
- Overall, TD leads the pack with the LGBT community -- it is this community’s “Main Financial Institution”
- A significant number of LGBT community members were unable to mention any financial institution as being “most involved in corporate funding support of the LGBT community”
- There was an opportunity to make our advertising more motivating to members of the community.
Acting on the results
TD is committed to maintaining and enhancing its position as the bank of choice for the LGBT community. TD will apply (and in fact is already applying) the lessons learned to help in the following areas:
- Developing advertising (both the creative images and the messages) across all channels that TD uses (in-branch posters and brochures, online and print advertisements)
- Creating internal messaging for sales and service staff
- Developing tailored product and service offerings to better serve the LGBT community
- Selecting what community events to sponsor and/or take part in based on what’s important to the LGBT community. For example, TD contributes to the following initiatives in the LGBT community:
- serving as a major sponsor and having dozens of employees get involved as volunteers during Toronto’s annual Pride Week celebration
- sponsoring Pride events such as Célébrations LGBTA Montréal, Pride London, Kelowna Pride, Tri-Pride in Kitchener/Waterloo and Pride Edmonton
- presenting sponsor for the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line’s 10th annual Youth Line Community Youth Awards
- participating in arts and culture events including: the London Lesbian Film Festival, Inside-Out Film Festival in Toronto, the Queer Film Festival in Vancouver, and Image+nation in Montreal
- supporting Jer’s Vision, an Ottawa-based group that does anti-homophobia work in high schools
- supporting other organizations including Casey House Hospice, SNAP! (a photography auction and competition organized by the AIDS Committee of Toronto), Art for Heart (an art auction in Toronto and Vancouver) and Maskarade, the masquerade ball fundraiser in Montreal spearheaded by the Farha Foundation
- working with Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, in support of laboratory technology at the hospital’s world-renowned B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
- working with Women’s College Hospital and community health partners, launched an awareness campaign aimed towards women in same sex relationships to ensure they have regular Pap tests
- Developing internal policies, practices and programs to continue to offer an inclusive environment where LGBT employees feel comfortable and welcome
- Developing policies, practices and programs to raise awareness about LGBT issues across TD.
Additional insights from the research will continue to help TD’s ongoing development of marketing and business strategies and programs targeted to the LGBT community.
Results of the research were disseminated throughout the organization to decision-makers, advisory groups and committees both representative of the community and responsible for business areas.
- Be prepared for the cost implications of necessary pre-screening. With the small population size of the LGBT community and the difficulty in locating and identifying this group, pre-screening is necessary. Completing research with this audience is more expensive than research conducted with the general population.
- Longer timeframes are needed to conduct the survey, compared to general research studies. Due to the challenge of locating individuals, a longer research period is needed to get the desired number of completed surveys. Any future research project should allow for more time to locate, identify and question this group, compared with the time needed to survey the general population.
- Partnering with a third party research company enables objective and honest communication. This allows LGBT persons to provide their thoughts in an environment that is protected from outside influences (such as direct company-to-LGBT customer contact). The results gathered through a third-party research company can be completely anonymous.
- Comparing LGBT results to a general representative population is encouraged, to identify opportunities and risks unique to this customer segment
- Partnership with a LGBT publication/organization that has a targeted customer list might help to broaden the target universe and dramatically increase research participation rates (by leveraging a vehicle the community trusts)
- Creating an LGBT community research panel – comprised of members of the community across Canada – with a smaller group of individuals allows for ongoing dialogue
- Holding focus groups where members can remain anonymous could offer benefits beyond the scope of any one survey.