Specific Features of Financial Services Marketing
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1.Specific Features of Financial Services Marketing
It has been suggested that there are two characteristics, which are specific for financial services marketing. The first one would be fiduciary responsibility and the second one is the two-way information flows.
Fiduciary responsibility is one of the most important features within the financial sector. It has been described through Arthur Meidan as “the responsibility of any financial services organisation to guard the interests of its customers”. This feature is very vital because if customers wont have the confidence and the trust in financial institutions, then they wont come back. But once they have gained the trust from the customer it is likely that they would remain with the organisation.
Consumers’ expectation is that they will be able to rely on well known financial services organisations taking all steps necessary to meet their fiduciary responsibility. As this is very important there is a substantial framework in place to ensure that customers can expect financial institutions to meet their fiduciary responsibility.
1.2Two-way Information Flows
This characteristic emphasises of the contact that takes place between customer and provider and how it is dealt with. We are not talking here about the amount of times a provider speaks with its clients but that such a contact provides the opportunity for the service providers to give and obtain information from the customer that can help in understanding and therefore meeting customers needs effectively.
A regular one-to-one meeting could help, so that the provider has the opportunity to obtain substantial amount of useful information about their clients’ financial needs.
As I am a client of the Natwest since a couple of years I wanted to take the chance and give a few examples for how the handle the difficulties which are presented by the two features of financial services marketing.
I trust the Natwest in whatever they suggest me to do. As since I am a customer with them they have been very helpful in providing me with the right information about what I needed. E.g. a couple of months ago I needed to open a savings account. I knew through looking at the Internet what king of services they offer, but as I was still confused I made an appointment with the customer officer. She was very helpful and gave me all the right information about it. As I relied on her information I opened the account and now down the line and turned out that she was right.
Therefore I assume that Natwest acts upon the customers needs and meets their fiduciary responsibility.
The Natwest has been always very helpful in providing the right information that I wanted to have. They have always listened to all my questions and when they needed something of me they immediately called me back and asked for it.
The Natwest has a very good source of information trough the Internet. Any customers can obtain all the information about any specific topic they require and it is very easy to use. In my point of view, I always look at first through their website and then make an appointment with the related customer officer. Also they provide very useful leaflets, which any customer can obtain by visiting their local branch.
Therefore I believe that the Natwest have good communications with their customers and their so-called two-information flows works very good.
2.Market Segmentation Approaches
Marketing Segmentation can be described as ‘at how customers with similar needs can identified and grouped into segments and targeted with relevant products and services’.
There are three different segmentation strategies: Undifferentiated marketing, which is more or less just a mass-market coverage. Then there is concentrated marketing. This focuses on one-marketing segment and therefore designs a marketing mix, which matches the needs of individuals in that single segment. Finally, there is also differentiated marketing. This one occurs where ‘a company develops different marketing approaches and targets them at different segments, believing that it has products and expertise which will enable them to differentiate between groups of customers on a profitable basis’.
2.1Advantage of Marketing Segmentation
Marketing segmentation has a number of advantages. Here I will list a few of them:
·It helps organisations to exploit its strengths and expertise.
·It enables companies to find gasps in the market for new product opportunities.
·Enhanced customer satisfaction.
·It reduces the costs of promotional activities and avoids resources being wasted.
·Improved customer retention.
2.2Why Company’s do a Market Segmentation
‘Market segmentation has been defined as a means of guiding marketing strategy by distinguishing customer groups and needs and it’s about dividing the market into distinct sub-sets of customers, where any sub-set can be selected as a target to be reached with a particular marketing strategy’. In simpler words, companies try to divide the mass market into smaller groups or also so called segments and then meet the particular needs of these segments.
2.3.The Features of a Market Segment
Before a company tries to target a segment, they must sure that this target has certain qualities, otherwise they would waist their money and time on it.
Probably the most important feature would be that the segment must be identifiable and measurable. Secondly, the segment must be large enough to be worthwhile bothering about and the company needs to know if the segment is shrinking or maturing. Finally, each segment must have the potential to generate profitability or otherwise they would just waist their money on the market strategy.
2.4.Bases for Segmenting Financial Services Consumers
It would be wise before a company decides to make a segmentation strategy, that they find a suitable basis for segmentation. There are a variety of different ways of doing this, but generally speaking segmentation bases fall into two distinct categories.
First of all there is the consumer characteristics, which can be grouped into the following sub-headings:
·Geographic bases – country, region or city size. This is often done by the postcode.
·Demographic bases – age, sex, income and family. This is a favourite method for segmenting consumers, as these variables are very easy to identify and measure. It has become very popular in financial services marketing.
2.5 Examples of Market Segmentation
As mentioned above I am currently a customer of Natwest. There I also have a e-savings account. I believe that Natwest are putting a lot of effort here in Edinburgh for students. As students are a market segment which is not only maturing but also is growing. Therefore by putting a lot of effort in that segment they wont waist their time in it. Students in the eyes of banks have a potential to generate profit.
Natwest targets students by offering them to open an account with them and giving them a certain amount of pounds for free. That in the eyes of a student is very lucrative, as they are always looking for money in some or another. Banks would only give free money to students, as they know that most students will sooner or later try to get an overdraft and by an overdraft banks will earn their money back.
Another good example is the e-savings account. This is a savings account, which is targeted for overseas students or for busy mid-twenties to mid-thirties. This account is very lucrative for this particular target as you can only excess it online or by telephonbanking. For most students this would be very convenient as then they would not need to go every single time when they want to make a transaction to the bank instead they just need to use the internet.
I believe that Natwest market strategies for the student target is working very well as I am a client with them and they have made me change from a different bank to Natwest.
3.Micro Marketing Environment
The microenvironment ‘consists of the elements in the organisation’s more immediate environment which affect its ability to serve its markets’.
For any organisation, a change in the micro marketing environment level creates uncertainty, threats and opportunities. Therefore it is significant for the organisations to not only know what was happening at the present time but also what changes might take place in the future. Unfortunately this is very easy said but not easy done.
The microenvironment consists of four different components:
3.1The Components of the Micro Environment
3.1.1Company Internal Environmental
Functional areas such a top management, financial and manufacturing.
Suppliers are firms and individuals that provide the resources needed by the company to produce its goods and services. Supplier developments can seriously affect marketing. Marketing managers must therefore watch supply availability. Supply shortages or delays, labour strikes, and other events can cost sales in the short run and damage customer goodwill in the long run.
This is clearly on of the most important components in the microenvironment and therefore any organisation needs be aware of the following:
·’How customers evaluate the organisation’s products and services against those of its competitors’.
·’What are they looking for in the market and how far is the organisation providing are effectively’.
·’How are their tastes changing’?
·’What are customers buying in the market, from whom and why’.
The marketing concept states that to be successful, a company must satisfy the needs and wants of consumers better than its competitors do. Thus, marketers must do more than simply adapt to the needs of target consumers.
No single marketing strategy is best for all companies. Each firm must consider its own size and industry position compared to those of its competitors. Large firms with dominant positions in the industry can use certain strategies that smaller firms cannot afford.
Publics are any group that perceives itself an interest in company ability its objectives.
Distributors / Marketing intermediaries are firms that help the company to promote, sell, and distribute its goods to final buyers. They include middlemen, physical distribution firms, marketing services agencies, and financial intermediaries. Middlemen are distribution channel firms that help the company find customers or make sales to them. These include wholesalers and retailers who buy and resell merchandise.
Within Natwest, they keep a close eye on their competitors. E.g. every year when university starts, every bank brings out a so-called ‘good deal’ for opening their account in their bank. Natwest always managed in my point of view to make their deal more lucrative so that they would get more students coming to their bank.
4.The Financial Services Marketing Mix – Product and Price
The major marketing management decisions can be classified in one of the following four categories:
These variables are known as the marketing mix or the 4 P’s of marketing. They are the variables that marketing managers can control in order to best satisfy customers in the target market.
The firm attempts to generate a positive response in the target market by blending these four marketing mix variables in an optimal manner.
The product is the physical product or service offered to the consumer. In the case of physical products, it also refers to any services or conveniences that are part of the offering.
Product decisions include aspects such as function, appearance, packaging, service, warranty, etc.
By analysing the market and its requirements, you will be able to change the product or develop the product in order to match those requirements of the people you are aiming at. You also need to remember that your customer’s needs are likely to change and therefore your products should constantly change to reflect each market change, if you ignore these changes your products will no longer be needed or desired by your target customers. The only way you will be able to do this is to track your products and track how your customers are still receiving your products and services, balancing the subtle changes as they occur.
Changing the product to reflect the product’s life cycle is only part of the essence of a well balanced marketing mix, and so PRICE enters the second important consideration of the marketing mix. When setting a price on a range for your products, you need to ensure that you can recoup any overheads, compete with rival companies and charge a price your customers are willing to pay. To do this you need to fine tune your pricing policy and you could achieve this in a number of ways:
4.2.1Loss Leader Pricing
This involves lowering prices on a number of key products in order to attract a customer to purchase the products. Customers obviously like a bargain and like may be attracted to buy this item even if they had never considered purchasing this item before. Price reductions could be used to entice customers to look at your other products, and any profit lost might well be made up should the customer be persuaded to shop around and purchase other produces not reduced in price. Loss leader pricing might be used to sell off or stimulate interest in products considered to be in the maturity or decline stage of their life cycle.
This type of pricing is used for products identified as being in the ‘introductory’ stage of the product life cycle to enable the product to get a foothold in the market. Prices are artificially reduced to attract the largest possible audience. It is often used to prevent or discourage competitors from capturing the market and used for products that are mass-produced.
Where Penetration Pricing keeps the pricing below the real market price, price skimming raises the price artificially to enable it to quickly recoup costs and for immediate profit. This type of pricing structure works very well for products that are in demand or where there are few competitors – electronic equipment for example. Caution has to be used when employing this strategy as competitors may well take advantage of these high prices and enter the market quickly with a realistic price thus stealing the market. Again this type of pricing strategy might be used when the product is in its growth stage in the product life cycle as demand is high and sales are high.
This involves allowing the same product to be priced differently; this can be justified when the product is sold in areas with differing economic climates, when sold through differing distribution channels, to appeal to a different market segment.
Natwest deals with both the product and the price factor of the marketing mix very well. As for the product, Natwest must have a good marketing, as the constantly introduce new products to keep their clients satisfied. Or they change the logo slightly so new customers would be attracted to their bank. Their student products are also constantly changing, as I have mentioned they change every single year their strategy how they could approach potential customer, which would be in this case students.
Natwest handles the price factor in my point of view also very well. They always try to keep up with their competitors by lowering their interest fees or by introducing new products where their gross rate is higher than the competitor.
Overall I believe Natwest must have a good marketing mix, as they always seemed to be better then their competitors.