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All the renowned banks around the globe offer their prestigious customers a service which is something more than banking. It is specially designed for customer’s utmost convenience and satisfaction; it gives customer a priority over regular customers and provides perks which others cannot enjoy. Standard Chartered calls it Priority Banking, Citibank calls it Citigold and Barclays calls it Barclays Premier.
Barclays Premier has witnessed a downward trend in its premier customers over the last two years. Management of Barclays Premier needs to analyze the behavior of their customers; and the impact of external and internal influences on their behaviors.
This report aims to present the factors influencing the behavior of Barclay’s customers and how those factors led to a fall in sales of Barclays Premier. Furthermore, the report will present how consumer behavioural theories can be applied in order to understand consumers’ behaviour in-depth in order to develop and implement more effectively marketing and communication strategies. Finally, it will go through the recommended positioning strategies for Barclays Premier which will positively influence the consumer behavior aspects – perceptions, attitudes and self-image.
For the purpose of this report secondary research was undertaken. Consumer behaviour and marketing management textbooks were the main source used. A small number of relevant Journal articles were reviewed. These articles were accessed through the electronic database. The recommendations were provided on the basis of primary research, my own findings and experiences.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2
2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 2
3 INTRODUCTION – BARCLAYS PREMIER BANKING 4
TASK 1 – IMPACT OF EXTERNAL INFLUENCES 4
4 EXTERNAL FACTORS 5
4.1 Cultural Influences 5
4.1.1 Global Culture 6
4.1.2 National and Sub-Culture in British Society 6
4.2 Reference Groups 7
4.3 Family and Household Influences 8
4.4 Other External Factors 8
TASK 2 – RECOMMENDED POSITIONING STRATEGY 10
5 Positioning Strategy (Online and Offline) 10
6 Current Online and Offline Positioning 10
7 Repositioning Barclays Premier 11
7.1 The Two Basic Principles of Positioning 11
7.2 Benefits 11
7.3 Unique Selling Proposition 12
8 Types of Positioning 13
8.1 Umbrella Positioning 13
8.2 Positioning Based on Specific Benefits (Suggested Strategy) 13
9 Further Suggestions and Recommendations 14
9.1 Online Positioning Messages and Statements 14
9.2 Offline Positioning Messages and Statements 14
10 TASK 3 – CRITICAL REFLECTION WRITING 16
11 REFERENCES 17
12 APPENDIX 19
INTRODUCTION – BARCLAYS PREMIER BANKING
As Barclays Premier says: “Discover a world where the ordinary does not exist, where every day is special, where every moment is exceptional” (Barclays, 2010).
Barclays Premier is designed for a service that focuses on clients’ individual rather than the ordinary banking desires. The clients of Barclays Premier take benefit from swift and resourceful responses, and gain access to exclusive banking products with improved rates.
Barclays provides its customers with dedicated Relationship Managers, Premier clients can take pleasure of a complete peace of mind as Relationship Managers work with their clients to determine the solutions that best suit their needs. They focus on client’s long term requirements and anticipate their requirements in order to give their best to the prestigious clients. Moreover a dedicated team of professionals is also there at all the branches and service centers to assist clients, handle their requests and get your transactions done within impressive time (Barclays, 2010).
Barclay’s premier offers their clients with specially designed well-furnished Premier Corners. Here they carry out all their banking transactions speedily, conveniently and in complete confidentiality. Premier Corners are designed to provide clients with quality surroundings and all the facilities to make your visit productive and pleasant. Premium corners even provide a kids place for kids while parents are at the corner Barclays claims about its Premier Corners that “Banks are designed for banking but Barclays Premier Centers are designed for Life” (Barclays, 2010).
Moreover customers who travel abroad for business can pre-book the conference rooms and can use their lounges. This lets the customers off with all the hassle when they travel abroad for corporate tours and allows them to focus on work with all the banking facilities at their disposal.
TASK 1 – IMPACT OF EXTERNAL INFLUENCES
Marketers need to understand consumers psyche in order provide them with exactly what, how and when they want. This helps them to flourish, there was an era when customer needs and requirements were not given specific importance but the major focus was on the product, it was assumed that consumes will buy the product that offers them with the highest quality, the best performance and most features but then things changed. Firms found that it was a lot easier to produce the products which were confirmed through research that customer wanted rather than persuading consumers to purchase what firm has already produced. This is how firms’ behavior evolved overtime and studying consumer behavior became a necessity for firms in order to succeed (Leon G Schiffman, 2008).
For this marketing concept to work, firms need to go through the hassle of consumer research, market segmentation, market targeting, positioning in order to provide customer value and achieve customer satisfaction. It is also very important to understand how a consumer makes a decision. Consumer’s go through a series of specified steps when they take a decision (refer to Exhibit 1 for more detail and graphical representation), and this really help marketers in understanding the psyche of the consumers they intend to cater to (Evans, 2007).
Barclays Premier is designed for the people who need luxury, comfort and convenience while performing their banking transactions. Most of these people give utmost importance to time and so want their tasks to be performed swiftly without any effort and right when they want it to be done. They want all the banking services to be at their disposal all the time.
Accounts that Barclay’s Premier handles can be classified into two major types’ .i.e. business accounts and personal accounts. Majority of the clients of Barclays Premier are business tycoons, belong to a pretty rich family background and are above 40 years of age. So the services that the Bank provides need to be designed keeping the needs, requirements and psyche of such people in mind. A thorough study and analysis of their consumer behaviors’ of their clients and targeted clients will help the Barclays Premier to tailor its banking products and services that exactly match their requirements and position itself in such a way that it inspires its target clients (Barclays, 2010).
We just went through how consumers take their decision (Exhibit 1) and we could see that decisions which customers take are not strictly their own personal decisions. The decisions of consumers do get affected by external forces either directly or indirectly. Some of these external influencing forces could be named as cultural influences which can further be divided to cultural, global, and national or sub-cultures, family and household influences, opinion leader influences, reference group in fluencies and so on. All these influences will further in discussed in detail and with respect to the clients of Barclays Premier (CN Krishna Naik, 1999).
Cultural influences affect individuals to a great extent and in such a way that they don’t even realize that their thoughts and beliefs are being affected. Cultural has an invisible hand and get into a man’s very basic beliefs of rights and wrongs. Culture is something that is learned by the practices generally prevailing in the society. Exhibit 2 graphically shows how culture influences on behavior of an individual (Ernest Henri Philippe Baudet, 1982).
The global trend of any product or a service does affect the usage of any product or a service. The culture is dynamic, things change, technology advances, methods of performing tasks change. The Global trend of using banking services is widely and so is the trend of premium and priority banking in particular. People are getting inclined towards better and efficient services, advanced technology, perks, comfort, convenience and more dedication when it comes to business and this is all what Barclays Premier offers. All the products and services are perfectly in line with the Global Culture and evolving with it. The Managers and Marketers should keep their products and services updated with respect to the recent trends for further improvement. So this is the area Barclays Premier does not need to worry about, for now at least (Mazarr, 2005).
National and Sub-Culture in British Society
British were once a society based too much on classes. People belonging to high classes were proud and arrogant and thought themselves as superior to other. But today, multiculturalism and a changing economy are gradually eroding the British class system, but some features of the system still remain (Weisser, 1987).
This service of premium banking does also somehow reflect this class thing to an extent. People who avail these services consider themselves to be prestigious and superior to the regular customers of Barclays itself. They are given more importance and preferred over other customers. This is the reason some people consider availing the premium banking services as a class and a status symbol rather than a need. People who are clients of Barclays Premier not only feel themselves to be superior as a customer but consider themselves as a different class.
Sociologists define social class as the grouping of people by occupations. People in occupations like Doctors and lawyers and university teachers are given more status than unskilled laborers. The various positions symbolize different levels of power, influence and money. In previous days your class would affect your odds of getting a good education, a respectable job, etc. and it also used to influence the people whom you could interact with and marry. Today this class system has reduced to a great extent and seen rarely in few cases with the high-profile exception of the Royal family (Moii, 2004). What Barclays Premier does is satisfying a need in the society which might have led to a bad thing like discrimination and class to very minute extent; or may be taking it the other way Barclays Premier got an edge or exploited something that was already prevailing in the British society (Barclays, 2010).
A fall in sales in last two years may be because of this showing off and class thing largely discouraged by everybody recently. Society is heading towards promoting equality. What Barclays Premier needs to promote in order to retain its sales is that Barclays Premier is not about being discriminatory or belittling the clients who avail regular banking services. Barclays Premium is about facilitating those who are too busy in their errands and find ways to save time for their family and other work responsibilities. It is for the people, being too busy in their work, who are looking for a comfortable and friendly environment and consider luxury at work an entertainment and a way of relaxing their minds. Moreover Barclays Premier is taking banking services to a new level and setting new standards.
In order to understand the dynamic consumer behavior, one needs to understand the influencing power of reference groups. A reference group may be defined as a person or a group that serves as a point of comparison for an individual in forming either general or specific values attitudes or a guide for their own behavior. Theorists divide these reference groups into normative and comparative. Normative may be your family as they do mould one’s consumption patterns but family influences will be discussed in detail later in the report. Comparative may be your neighbors who you can compare yourself to and their way of living seems pretty impressive and worth imitating to you. Another classification in reference groups could be indirect reference groups with whom you do not have any contact in person such as TV stars, sports heroes and politicians. The crux of the matter for a marketer is that these reference groups do affect consumption decisions of individuals (C.L. Tyagi, 2004).
The relevant reference groups for a client of Barclays Premier could be like family (discussed later) and may be some family friends whose lifestyle they inspire and or may be can relate to it. Their co-worker, colleagues or even competitors at market place may act as reference groups. He could most likely also have indirect reference groups such as sports celebrities, politicians, movie stars or may be some random impressive guy at workplace. As mentioned above, a reference group that is perceived as credible, attractive or powerful can easily influences a consumer’s attitude or behavior towards a product or a service. For example if a person interested in availing the services of Barclays Premier would definitely refer to one or more of this comparative or normative reference groups before deciding to be a client of Barclays Premier.
Barclays Premier can use this valuable concept of reference groups to put into effect the desired changes in consumer behavior of their clients or targeted clients. Barclay’s Relationship Managers should reach inspiring business individuals around, introduce them to Barclays Premier’s impressive services and offer special favors in terms of work relationships to convert potential clients into actual clients and to promote a positive image among the leading business community of the country. This would really benefit the Bank in terms of sales as well in terms of image. Those people may act as reference groups to several other potential and target customers, recommend them the premier services and so the cycle goes on. This reference groups can act as the best source of word-of-mouth advertisement which is ranked the highest and the most effective among all the advertising techniques used by marketers. Moreover, Managers should utilize their well off business as well as personal contacts to introduce and promote their premier services (Pascale Quester, 2007).
Family and Household Influences
Family is the first contact that a human gets when he comes into this world and undoubtedly the things that you learn through this normative reference group at has a tinge throughout your life no matter where and in which culture you spend rest of your life in. Effective products and services to a family make loyal consumers and continue last for generations.
This reference group cannot be directly influenced or contacted by Barclays Premier to like other reference groups mentioned earlier but they definitely do affect the consumer’s decision so they should be taken into account. Barclays while targeting the corporate world should also focus on Pvt. Limited companies and Sole proprietorships in particular. They may not be very big shots for the Bank but they can benefit for a longer run; loyalty of such clients has a tendency to last for very long time periods as it continue for generations if the services remain up to the mark and Barclays Premier offers the best (Wright, 2006).
Other External Factors
Other External factors that may affect consumer behavior include the Economic conditions around the globe, economic conditions of UK in particular, spending and saving propensities of businesses and households in the country, trends of the banking industry (Prosser, 2010).
The world has gone through a major recession and high inflationary pressures lately. This directly affected the liquid deposits of all the Banks including Barclays Premier. All the savings of businesses and households drained away. Due to high inflationary pressures, liquid money lost its value and people preferred not to keep their money in liquid form at all except for what was needed for day to day expenses of businesses and households due to which the liquid assets of Barclays Premier got worsened (The times, 2009).
Moreover, researches show that the average propensity spending for an average British has decreased which leads to a fall in Bank deposits. Even if they are, they do not save in liquid forms rather buy financial instruments or fixed assets to save (Prosser, 2010).
Barclays Premier cannot influence these external factors but can mould itself accordingly; it can come up with better range of saving products and at competitive prices. It can divert its attention away from promoting liquid deposits temporarily until the economic situation gets better. It can provide businesses and households with better ways and a greater range of saving instruments. Managers can advise their clients about the ways through which they can prevent their idle money lose value.
TASK 2 – RECOMMENDED POSITIONING STRATEGY
Positioning Strategy (Online and Offline)
Online and offline are actually two mediums which can be used by any organization for positioning itself in the mind of the consumer. Before dividing itself into offline or online the Barclays needs to get clear on its basic positioning.
There are numerous brands under each and every industry of the world. Two brands may even be producing similar goods and services at similar prices but one may have a far greater market share; because as mentioned earlier, now a days it is not about product, it’s about marketing yourself. Once that the company has segmented its market and selected its target segment that can benefit it the most, comes the time for positioning itself in the minds of its target market (Kumar, 2010).
In order to design an effective positioning strategy one needs to keep in mind the concepts of perception, self and attitude of the targeted consumers. Another concept of just noticeable difference is the minimal difference that can be detected between two similar stimuli and this will be important and relevant for Barclays Premier for two reasons: One that the negative changes are not readily discernible to the public and so that the product improvements are very apparent without being wastefully extravagant (Leon G Schiffman, 2008).
Barclays Premier needs to understand the attitude of their target clients before positioning itself. Theorists have designed different models to understand the attitude of the consumers which include the Tri component Attribute Model and Multi Attribute Attitude models. The major reason for designing these models is to study their consumers. Therefore Barclays need to analyze the behavior, the attitude, the likes and dislikes of their clients to cater their needs.
Current Online and Offline Positioning
Though Barclays Premier has positioned itself as a high-end service provider but currently the positioning of Barclays Premier is a little vague or may be incomplete. It`s positioning messages and statements are not focused, so it has to list down its benefits and unique selling propositions (mentioned later in detail) and options for a positioning strategy in order to get focused and get clear on its positioning.
Barclays has designed well-furnished Premium Corners, which complements it offline positioning, in order to endorse the image of luxuriousness; it gives client the feel of being superior and preferred. It has built an online portal to provide its clients with online access to their accounts from any corner of the world. Moreover it has designed various services and facilities exclusively for premier clients which may also be considered as tools in it for offline positioning statements.
Repositioning Barclays Premier
The Two Basic Principles of Positioning
The online as well offline positioning of Barclays Premier should revolve around two basic principles, the first is benefits and the other is unique selling proposition. In order to position itself in an impressive manner Barclays Premier needs to list down its benefits and unique selling propositions so that it can get clear on its positioning.
It can use these benefits and unique selling propositions by either directly putting them on their official websites, blogs, forums or brochures in the Premium Corners or it can design various other positioning messages and statements based on these benefits and unique selling propositions. Therefore listing down the benefits and unique selling propositions is very important and therefore done as follows.
The benefits of Barclays Premier would be that is specifically designed to enable the most efficient banking service one can ever experience. A range of benefits a client of Barclays Premier can enjoy are listed below:
It provides with a team of highly qualified experts for carrying out the client’s banking operations and providing the client with advice of managing their liquid assets called premium team. These experts will offer their financial proficiency, solutions and priority service required to keep the funds working round the clock.
Life’s Rewards is the membership program limited to Barclays Premier Life and is the manner of saying thank you for the business customers do with us. A range of exclusive events, experiences and discounts are offered to our valued customers.
Premier Life Account
Premier Life Account provides everything one would wish for from Barclay’s exclusive Premier banking service. And the customers will get the support of a specialist team to help with all their money management needs.
Finer Home Insurance
If one wants to guard ones belongings and possessions with more than a standard insurance policy, Barclay’s high value home insurance can offer assurance.
Premier Credit Card
Available exclusively to Premier Life clients, the Barclays Premier Credit Card is deliberately designed to fit the way a customer wants to live.
Moreover, it also provides Premier Mortgages, investments and insurance. Managers can manage the client’s money even online or on phone. It does not facilitate the client in the home country but abroad as well. It provides the customers with meeting rooms and lounges abroad so that can handle their business peacefully and can concentrate on work during corporate tours rather doing the hassle of looking for appropriate places to work (Barclays, 2010).
Once these benefits and unique selling propositions are listed down, the Barclays Premier needs to see what kind of positionings are devised by marketers and what type will suit it the best. Types of postioning are discussed in the following part of the report.
Unique Selling Proposition
This is the distinct benefit that the organization has for the product or a service. Theory says that most of the products fail because they are not perceived by the consumers as distinct or any different from other products. In consumer behavior language they are considered to be “me too” products that do not have any unique image or benefit. The unique features that Barclays Premium can claim to have would be:
One can accomplish all his banking transactions speedily, conveniently and in complete confidentiality at any of his Premier Corners. Barclays’ Premier Corners are designed to offer its customers with class ambiance and all the facilities to make his visit prolific and pleasant.
Global Access to Flagship Premier Centers
Premier customers traveling abroad and needing venues for a meeting can pre-book a conference room at flagship Barclays branches or use their lounge. Barclays Premier VISA Debit card is all that one needs to access the lounge – a sanctum where one can relax and conduct business in a stress-free environment.
24 hour Call Centre
Customers can call at 111-WEALTH (111-932-584) for instantaneous help. Barclays’ expert professionals are always available to take care of one’s enquiries and requests with the extreme priority 24-hours a day, 7 days a week
In order to make customers’ visit to the bank more comfortable, all Premier Corners will offer reserved and valet parking
Moreover, every element at Barclays Premium is specified to the highest quality, from technology to flooring, furniture, lighting and decor. Things are designed to facilitate the most resourceful banking service a client can ever experience.
If a client needs to work, he can find a range of facilities to enable him to do whatever he needs to do. It can be a desk space, internet facility or a conference room. There is a special place for kids to play at every premium corner so that children can play while the parent is busy with work (Barclays, 2010).
Types of Positioning
Theory suggests different ways of positioning a product or a service. Barclays Premier can use the one that suits or benefits it the most. As mentioned earlier, a clear positioning strategy will help Barclays Premier get focused and this way it will overcome the basic flaw in its positioning which is vagueness. These positioning tactics or ways are listed below:
This strategy can be defined as creating an overall image of the company around which a lot of products can be featured individually. If we apply this in the case of Barclays Premier then it would be positioning Barclays as a whole through its benefits and unique selling propositions and then Barclays Premier and its products and services could automatically benefit from the positioning of Barclays in the minds of consumers (Solomon, 2009).
Positioning Based on Specific Benefits (Suggested Strategy)
This is when the organization positions itself as different and better in minds of the consumers by listing down its unique characteristics and benefits that other find hard to provide. This kind of positioning would be most suitable for Barclays Premier as it has a list of benefits and unique features (listed in the report before). The Bank can use these unique and high class services to position itself differently in the minds of its target consumers.
Further Suggestions and Recommendations
Online Positioning Messages and Statements
Barclays Premier provides its clients with an online portal for a 24/7 access to their accounts from any corner of the world. It should also provide online help and advice for their clients which will endorse its image of assistance anytime the client wants. As most of the clients of Barclays Premier move around the globe for business and they may require assistance or favor from the bank. Due to timing differences working hours in any other country may not match with working hours in UK which might become a little inconvenient for the clients needing banking assistance or personal banking advice abroad. Therefore, Barclays Premier should provide its clients with 24/7 telephone banking assistance by its experts. This will boost image of care and assistance. For further engraving this image it could use a positioning message like “Banking assistance anytime in every corner of the world”.
Barclays uses positioning statements online for creating the intended image in the minds of the current and potential clients. Instead of saying that “Banks are designed for banking, Barclays Premier Centers are designed for life”; it should modify it a little by saying that “Banks are designed for banking, Barclays Premier Centers are designed for a convenient life”. This gives it a feel of a need being fulfilled rather than a feel of being superior. It should promote that though it provides extravagant services but they are not only for a show off purpose but they are today’s needs. A pleasant and luxurious working place is a source of comfort and relaxation for busy individuals.
It can use online statements as “Working and feeling like home” or “Banking was never so comfortable”. This will promote how convenient it is to perform banking tasks at Barclays Premier.
Offline Positioning Messages and Statements
The premier corners designed by Barclays Premier are a statement in itself. They are designed to provide the assistance through most advanced technology and in a lavish environment. They promote the image of being luxurious. Each and every corner portrays the image of being up to the mark. But this image of being posh is not enough.
Barclays Premier needs to promote and create a positive image for its core service as well which obviously is banking. It takes edge on its value added services to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors and create a favorable impression on clients. It needs to uphold its competent banking abilities as well. Barclays Premier needs to mention about the competency of their professional experts. It can use a statement like “the best financial advice you may get, we want you to prosper because we care”. This statement will create an impression that
The services provided are impressive but should be improved even further to endorse the representation of comfort and convenience. The attitude of the experts and other people working in the Premium Corners should be an amalgamation of professionalism and care where the care should slightly overwhelm the professionalism. The client should feel that the advice they get is by no means selfish on the part of the Bank to increase their business, it is for their own financial betterment. Personal financial consultants should tailor the banking services and try and mould the banking procedures according to the convenience of individual clients.
All the positioning messages should be displayed at different places such as Premium corners, brochures, banking instruments, websites, portals, blogs, communities, billboards and on different advertising means so that when people hear about Barclays Premier they automatically recall those statements.
TASK 3 – CRITICAL REFLECTION WRITING
I had gone through the reading course material thoroughly before starting to work on the course work and throughout the course but I was really looking forward to a practical experience or something which could help me clear my concepts in a pragmatic way. I really wanted to see the concepts and theories that I have studied in practice. I was intrigued to see how the firms make use of these theories in practical life and benefit from these theories at the market place.
I was really enthusiastic and really looking forward to a great experience. I carried out a complete research while I was working on the course work. I interviewed different people working at Barclays Premier and clients of Barclays Premier. As I was working on it I put myself into a position of a Marketing Manager at Barclays Premier. Simultaneously I also put myself as a consumer and felt the influences of different factors on my decision making.
When I concentrated on the course material and tried putting each and every relevant concept in practice to solve the problem, I came up with a lot of useful things and I felt like doing something real and productive. But there was one thing which made me feel incomplete and that
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