Infinite affinity
A Bank of Scotland case study

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Page 5: Making contact

Bank Of Scotland 6 Image 7Bank of Scotland has several ways of making contact. One involves gaining access to membership lists. The usual route is through club officials, who may or may not decide to co-operate, depending partly on the wishes of the club’s members. Sometimes the bank is able to obtain a list free of charge. Other times it may have to pay to obtain the list.

Once a list has been obtained, the bank makes contact through direct mailing to individuals. Often, the club or society endorses the contact, which increases the likelihood of the credit card offer being taken up. A 10% take up would be considered a good response. Marketing through direct mailing from lists is attractive because it allows marketing material to be closely targeted. Other ways of advertising the product include:

  • face to face selling at special events e.g. the annual general meeting or conference
  • judiciously placed leaflet drops
  • inserts in newspapers and magazines, including specialist publications
  • television advertising that includes a phone number to call
  • inserts on judiciously selected web pages on the Internet.

Not all of these methods produce equally good results. Some, such as television advertising, may produce a high level of response, but also run the risk of attracting poor quality business from people whose credit-worthiness is not easy to confirm. As yet, it is rather too early to be sure how Internet advertising will perform, but it is opening up exciting new possibilities.

Increasing market share

Bank Of Scotland 6 Image 6In a growing market, increasing one’s market share involves growing faster than the overall growth trend. That is a tough task. Simply retaining market share is a significant achievement. Every year, all issuers of credit cards lose some customers through death or desertion. There is a constant need to attract and to retain new customers. Ways of doing this include:

  • adding value to the product by enhancing the total package e.g. by offering the card holder cheap travel insurance or privileged access to holiday and hotel bookings
  • providing a good service e.g. eliminating errors in billing and responding positively and promptly to complaints
  • increasing the range of countries and premises in which the card is welcomed.

One way to attract new customers is to offer a favourable initial deal e.g. a reduced rate of interest for 6 months (a ‘teaser’) that produces an overall saving over a rival credit card in Year 1. One danger of this approach is that some customers become sophisticated ‘cherry-pickers’ who move on after one year. Bank of Scotland intends to remain a major player in the affinity card market, and, with justification, remains confident in its ability to continue to lead the field.


Bank of Scotland | Infinite affinity