case studies

Financial Case Study: Alterna Savings


An Ontario-based credit union with more than 100,000 members, Alterna Savings has been serving members as a financial cooperative for over a century. With 24 locations, the member-owned institution offers a full range of financial products and services, all with a commitment to supporting the well-being of members, employees and communities.


In this era of Big Data, the most valuable insights about customers often can be found within a company’s member database. But for a credit union like Alterna Savings, the Big Challenge was identifying and extracting the key data that would provide the insights to help them better connect with members and prospects. Officials wanted to know how to leverage Alterna’s own rich data with external databases and tools to build customized member segments that will help it acquire new members and better engage existing ones. Additionally, they wanted to understand how to spread their data-based insights across the organization and promote an analytics-approach to decision-making.


Starting with the question “Who are our best customers?”, the Alterna marketing team gathered members of other departments—including executives, IT experts, product managers and network planners—to participate in the process. After cleaning their in-house data, Environics Analytics analysts integrated member data with EA’s WealthScapes, PRIZMC2, DemoStats and Social Values datasets to help them better understand their customers, calculate wallet share and determine opportunities for growth. EA analysts then combined the PRIZM segments into distinct target groups, imaging the groups to give all departments a common understanding of their members and how to communicate with them. By classifying members into target groups, the analysis showed that the best customers in Toronto (Winner’s Circle, Pets & PCs) are different from those in Ottawa (Money & Brains, Suburban Rows). A gap analysis to calculate market and wallet share also indicated where branches had an opportunity to increase sales of financial products ranging from GICs to mortgages. 


The collaborative work with EA allowed Alterna to place its members at the centre of its business. Over the past two years, the credit union has leveraged data-driven insights across its organization—from executives to front-line staff—to strengthen its relationship with current members and attract new ones. Social Values data gave Alterna branch managers insight into how to communicate with members during phone calls using language that resonated with their concerns. The assessment of the financial landscape also helped identify key markets and most promising opportunities—by market and target group. “For the first time, we had a common understanding of our members and a starting point for developing common metrics to measure the outcome of our strategies,” said Pamela Stewart, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Alterna Savings. “Just as important, the work left Alterna executives with a thirst for more quantitative insights to define opportunities and increase engagement. We saw the work as a journey to becoming an analytics organization, and the results are worth the time and effort.”