Money Matters makes it cool to save
11 January 2018
A YouTube channel full of quirky money-saving tips, Money Matters has reached a huge audience in Turkey almost overnight. But in a country traditionally adverse to saving, it took some smart thinking to shake things up.
Saving has never been popular in Turkey. Studies show that only about 14 percent of people in Turkey save, including those who stash their cash under the mattress. The rest of society thinks saving is only for big earners.
“Anyone can save though. You just need to get over the idea that it’s difficult,” said Ecem Tulgay, marketing communications assistant vice president and the brains behind Money Matters.
But convincing consumers aged 21 to 35 was not going to be easy. Blogs, TV commercials had all been tried before, and failed.
“Fast-paced people who like to keep up with trends: the latest iPhone, food, fashion, you name it. They’re great at spending, but not so good at saving, especially when they get online,” she said.
“Our target audience practically lives online.”
Much of that time is spent on YouTube, where in Turkey alone, the video-sharing platform has 30 million unique users watching 305 videos a person every month. More than just being the ‘new TV’, it’s also where they search to learn new things.
“So, if we wanted to reach these people, YouTube had to be the way to go.”
Making it fly
Ecem: “But even with YouTube as our format, we still knew this was going to be a hard group to reach. They think banking and money stuff is complicated and boring and that income is something personal that shouldn’t be talked about.”
“So we turned this ‘boring’ stuff into some fun and easy-to-understand information about banking and how to save on daily expenses. That’s how the Money Matters (Para Mevzulari in Turkish) YouTube channel came to life.”
To make their idea fly, Ecem and team (Feyza Tamer, marketing communications president, and Gökçe Say, marketing communications vice president) hooked up with some of Turkey’s top YouTubers, like Uras Benlioğlu, Burcu Bakdur, İrem Güzey and Merlin Mutfakta.
Ecem: “We looked around to find YouTube influencers who were fun to watch and were already talking about stuff like how to cook for less or DIY fashion, both of which are ways to save money. They liked our ideas too. A perfect match!"
In fact, Money Matters can be so entertaining that you might forget that it’s serious business.
“All the tips that we give are about regular expenses, derived from Google search data. And our information about banking is based on frequently asked questions like: what is a credit rating or what is the difference between a car loan and consumer loan?”
But perhaps the most surprising aspect of Money Matters is that it’s unbranded. The ING connection is very subtle. It was not designed to sell products.
Ecem: “We’re talking genuine financial empowerment here, through knowledge. Besides saving on daily expenses, we want people to feel comfortable walking into a bank, any bank, to open an account or ask about a certain kind of loan. Know where to begin. Our aim as ING is to empower everyone, not just customers.”
This subtle approach certainly did the trick. During its launch in the summer of 2017, Money Matters reached 44,000 YouTube subscribers, with 51,000 subscribers and 10.5 million views in total by September. It even outperformed YouTube’s awareness benchmark.
One good turn deserves another
And perhaps the most encouraging thing of all? Money Matters has started receiving money-saving tips back from subscribers.
Ecem: “When we published a video on how to make furniture using cheap wooden crates, viewers responded with their own solutions for affordable furnishings. Someone asked for a video about student life, so we published one about cheap ways to move house. And the list goes on.”
Based on the positive feedback, Money Matters seems well on its way to getting more people in Turkey into the habit of saving money and hopefully putting it in the bank. One thing’s certain: Money Matters has already become an impressive source of money-saving tips for digital users – even for the team behind it.
“Instead of buying new clothes all the time, I’ve started to get creative with what I already have. Money Matters has some great videos on how to wear one skirt in five different ways and how to turn a T-shirt into your own, fashionable creation,” said Gökçe.
Ecem: “Now, instead of getting my daily breakfast and coffee from Starbucks, I bring it in to work from home. It’s these small, underestimated charges that can really put a strain on your budget. Every little bit helps.”