How DBS Bank filled ‘knowledge deficit’ in personal finance with TableTok | The Drum

Winning Influencer Marketing Gold in The Drum Awards for Marketing APAC is DBS Bank’s TableTok. Here is the award-winning case study.

In 2023, over half of surveyed Singaporeans (55.2%) said they considered themselves financially illiterate. Four in ten respondents said they did not understand financial concepts, even ones as simple as compound interest. The survey further highlighted a concerning passivity among youths, with 60% taking a passive approach to their financial goals due to their knowledge gaps. These statistics suggest a significant “knowledge deficit” in personal finance management among Singaporeans.

For Singapore’s largest bank, DBS, a brand that encourages people to “Live More, Bank Less,” this was not ideal. The focus of the bank was to ensure that banking-at-large wouldn’t stand in the way of people living their best lives. With a pool of potentially uninformed customers, DBS took it as its responsibility to educate young adults and help them become financially savvy.

The ambitious goal was to become a reputable source of financial information on TikTok, where most youths spend their time, and to showcase its products and services aimed at:

To better connect with their youth customers, DBS initially turned to TikTok as part of its employee branding strategy to showcase the fun side of the brand. However, a global TikTok survey revealed that 54% of young adults preferred consuming finance content on TikTok over other platforms, and viewership for this content grew 2.7x faster than any other category in Southeast Asia.

Further, the democratization of content and community of influencers allowed for authentic, entertaining, and digestible content that youths can relate to, presenting a perfect opportunity for DBS to seed its position with youths with qualified financial advice that they were looking for on TikTok.

Knowing that there is a pervasive knowledge gap in financial literacy, DBS knew they needed to be the voice of the youths (who don’t know what they don’t know) by asking the right questions and providing the right answers. This insight prompted the bank to prioritize making content on TikTok relatable to youths. Through extensive research, the bank pinpointed financial anxieties weighing on young minds.

To validate these problems and to ensure content relevance, DBS partnered with Hepmil Creators’ Network to collaborate with key local TikTok influencers. Feedback from their followers provided the foundation for content, offering crucial insights that inspired relatable financial tips and scenarios that eventually gave birth to TableTok, a DBS content series that supports young adults in navigating their finances. The premise of the series is where objects on a bank intern’s desk come to life when she leaves, and they discuss the latest financial wisdom they heard and saw all day. The information shared in the series uniquely addresses youths’ budgeting, investing, and saving challenges in ways never seen before in Singapore’s banking industry.

The objects in TableTok were meticulously designed to match the present-day tropes that younger audiences love on TikTok. A playful mixture of objects belonging to DBS, symbolizing financial wisdom, and the intern’s personal items, representing common financial anxieties, resonated instantly with young adult viewers.

The creative format was carefully designed and brought to life in the form of AI filters, and character skits in order to be authentic and relatable to the scrolling population on TikTok.

In an attention economy, it was vital that DBS was not just going to launch a content series without ensuring visibility and watchability. This led to creating content mileage and integrating TikTok influencers into the heart of the idea.

Beyond a solid content and character plan, they needed to be voiced by the right people who represented the masses. DBS enlisted the help of 6 top Singaporean TikTokers, including @zakiv4 (214K followers) and @syapls (298K followers), to voice these characters. Voicing these characters using fan-favorite influencers supported the push for greater attention given to a new series.

With the influencers on board, the content was not limited to organic discovery. Rather, these influencers supported the push of the content using their own platforms to increase reach for the series. From behind-the-scenes content to engaging polls, the influencers successfully created a deepened interest for their characters with consistent support shown in the form of comments throughout the series. They also helped to create a feedback loop for potential topics which supported the sharpening of the episodes as they rolled out.

On top of that, DBS employed a “Seed and Solve” strategy to increase the distribution of the content where we staged the interaction between influencers and TableTok characters to further cement DBS’ position as a credible source of financial information to youths.

Trendy TikTok influencers from different content categories, including @yeoshinoya (285K followers) and @boblet21 (57K followers), came into seed genuine financial pain points, which were used to plan content, such as “Which insurance plan should I get” and “I don’t know how to track my finances.” These became staged opportunities for DBS to engage with more communities of youth through the creators in an authentic way.

DBS then “stitched” solutions to these influencers’ pain points delivered by TableTok characters, introducing the series to a wider audience. As this interaction felt organic, it allowed the brand to join conversations credibly and inch towards its goal of becoming a brand that younger Singaporeans could trust.

With over 10.5 million views and nearly 9,000 engagements across 18 episodes, the series cracked the engagement code, sparking almost 500 conversations in brand pages’ traditionally quiet comment sections. These weren’t just emojis; we saw a mix of positive reception for the format, the execution, and the influencers who voiced over or appeared in the videos. The most valuable ones were genuine questions about financial planning and full-blown discussions about the topics discussed, signaling interest to take charge of their financial situations.

The success story didn’t end there. The influencer collaboration spilled over on to their personal platforms, generating an additional 200,000 reach and 10,000 engagements across Instagram and TikTok.

Kantar Singapore did a Brand Lift Study between September and October to determine whether TableTok truly moved the needle. A staggering 33.5% increase in online ad awareness, outpacing the TikTok benchmark by 2.7 times, was just the beginning. DBS’s association with engaging youth (+19.5%), offering innovative solutions (+17.5%), and fostering financial planning (+16%) all surged after this series. TableTok didn’t just entertain; it reshaped how DBS is being perceived on TikTok.

And amid headlines of service outages that challenged DBS’s brand image in 2023, TableTok helped DBS stand tall. Remarkably, favorability (+14.5%), consideration (+13%), and recommendation (+11%) metrics all increased after the launch. TableTok proved that engaging, community-driven content can help improve brand image significantly.

With a powerful content plan, innovative engagement tactics, and strategic influencer partnerships, financial literacy doesn’t have to be a dry textbook.

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