UBank’s PeopleLikeU: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 24

What is PeopleLikeU?

PeopleLikeU is an interactive platform that enables people to compare and benchmark the spending habits of different types of people. The platform was created by Australia’s UBank and uses aggregated consumer data collected by the bank.


How it works

PeopleLikeU capitalizes on people’s curiosity and the growing trend of self-quantification.

Blogger Susan Abbott commented:

“We all love to peek and compare. A new service from an Australian bank lets people peek in a more organized way.”


People begin by logging on to the platform and creating their own profile. People enter demographic data such as gender, age, income, living situation (single, couple, family), housing and location (restricted to Australian pin codes).


PeopleLikeU uses this data as a filter and then generates a Uniqueness report which shows the spending habits of similar people, in categories including food & drink, travel, shopping, house & home, real estate, holiday and bills.


Several people, like PhD student Kale, shared their report findings on blogs and forums:

“I tried it out and there are 147 people like me. I spend less on rent (even with my current increase) and more on groceries than the people like me   And also way less on travel – apparently people like me spend $500 a month on travel!”

PeopleLikeU also lets people see the most popular stores based on transactions – a feature we haven’t seen in other data comparison tools.


People can scan this data to find new stores to visit in their own locality, or in other locations when they are traveling or holidaying. The press release states:

 “What’s even better, you can also get the inside scoop on emerging new bars and restaurants that people like you visit, as well as tips on hotels and restaurants abroad and in other Australian cites. So wherever you go, People Like U can make sure you’re always making the most informed decision about where and how much to spend.”

PeopleLikeU lets people compare their own profile with the average Australian and also with other custom profiles and other districts. People can see spends across the different categories – by monthly spend, spend per transaction and yearly frequency.


In addition, people can compare their spends on monthly bills, like insurance, energy and phone bills. People use this data to validate their own budgets. Here’s what one user commented:

“The interesting stuff for me though is the bill check with the comparisons to other people in our postcode, for communications we are the same as 10% of people in our postcode, and well below the average which is good, apparently we have a good phone/internet deal.”


Finally, the platform offers Real Estate and Holiday planners to help people identify popular locations and to see how much they budget for these larger expenses.


Here’s a video in which Jennie Bewes, Digital Director at UBank, introduces PeopleLikeU.

Finvoate Asia 2012: PeopleLikeU: The World’s First Econographic Too

The PeopleLikeU Database

UBank worked with data specialists Quantium to aggregate and analyze de-identified consumer data, combine public spending stats and normalize the data to the population count of Australia.

Emily Olive explains:

“Data consultancy agency, Quantium, has worked for the last four years to create a Market Blueprint database that provides insight into consumer trends and habits. A combination of census data, consumer spending information, aggregated savings goals, balance information and summarised mortgage data from UBank and NAB make up the database.”

Liz Tay reported:

“The publicly available PeopleLikeU site took UBank six months to develop, leveraging a four-year relationship with analytics firm Quantium.”

Opportunity for data collection

While data collection is not a major focus of PeopleLikeU, there are a few stages at which people can enter their own data, like how much they spend on charity, movie tickets or the salon.


Blogger Sarah pointed out:

“And there’s the option to ‘update’ the information – and this is gold to both the bank – but also to the bank’s clients.”

While the reactions to PeopleLikeU have been mainly positive as people compare their spends and evaluate their budgets, some people question the ethics of collecting data and the opportunity for organizations to eventually sell this data to third parties.

Blogger Patrice Bernard shared his concerns around organizations’ forays in big data:

Anyway, the gap is now open and it may trigger one side (the banks), a rush to a new source of income and the other (the consumer), a movement hazardous release (again) for the image of financial institutions. Achieving a balance between these two poles of opposition will take some time …*


*Translation via Google

We explore some of the sensitivities around collection and use of data in our People’s Insights report on Vicks Mobile Ad Campaign.

Using data to go beyond comparisons

On the other hand, some people are excited about the potential of big data.  Simon Arden commented:

“what we are seeing is the banks starting to put their toes into the water, giving customers some insight into trend analysis using broad segmentation.

“the next and far more valuable phase (for the banks and their customers) is leveraging big data by applying predictive analytics to provide a more forward-looking view. so the conversation changes from “x number of people in your suburb own houses” to “x number of people in your suburb are likely to buy a new house in the next 12 months” – this insight can then be used to drive better and more targeted marketing efforts from banks to customers – and can also help customers to make better future financial decisions.”

Other organizations getting on the big data wagon

Several financial institutions have created platforms that enable people to share and compare their expenses with similar others. For instance, Credit Agricole created Diagnostic Epargne to help people understand their savings, Capitec Bank created The Budgetanator app on Facebook to help people track their expenses, and Commonwealth Bank created Signals (video) to help people compare their financial profile to Commonwealth customers with similar demographic profiles.

Capitec Bank the Budgetanator


MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

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As an example, 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing, storytelling and social data on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities. We have further synthesized the insights from 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, now available as a Kindle eBook.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi is Director of Research and Insights at MSLGROUP. She tracks digital consumer trends for People’s Insights and is community manager of MSLGROUP’s insights community SPRINT. Tweet her at @nidhichimnani

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