Consumers love a bargain no matter their market demographic and some consumers continue to patronize the same types of stores for their purchasing needs. With the holiday season closing in, Bank of America is releasing its new Silver A-Plus card in an attempt to capitalize on the increased number of sales within this particular period.
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The Silver A-Plus card works by linking its use to particular high-end retail establishments such as Macy’s and Tiffany’s to name a few. Eligible bank clients can choose which particular establishments they would like to link to the card and, as a result, this enables them to avail of special discounts as well as the use of exclusive member services such as a personal shopper, free delivery, free access to the store’s customer lounge, priority customer service as well as a variety of other services depending on the store they choose (Blankson, Paswan & Boakye 2012).
As the holiday season draws nearer, more consumers are going to start making their Christmas and New Year’s gift purchases. With the Silver A-Plus card specifically targeting consumers in the top ten percent of the economy, the goal of the bank is to be able to connect particular consumers with certain stores and by doing so make a profit off their holiday purchases and agreements with the high-end retail stores that they connect to the card (Prupes & Becker 2014).
The current market in this particular case is composed of several of New York City’s high-end stores while the consumers are primarily clients with high credit scores and a history of timely and prevalent credit card purchases at such establishments.
The location of the target market will primarily be on the Upper East Side of Manhattan as well as several other prominent locations within New York City. The reason behind this is due to the fact that stores such as Macy’s and Tiffany’s are primarily located along 5th Avenue while other similar stores are scattered in different locations in New York City as well.
The target market demographics for the A-Plus card will primarily be high income clients of Bank of America. These individuals should have excellent credit scores of 600 and above while at the same time show consistent patronage of some of New York’s most prestigious and high-end establishments (Weise 2012). It is assumed, though not entirely confirmed, that 60 to 70 percent of the clientele that match the specified requirements will be female clients of the bank while the remaining 40 or 30 percent will be male.
The market need in this particular case is that consumers need a credit card that links specifically to the store where they do the most shopping and, as such, enables them to derive the most benefit from shopping at their favorite location through special discounts, services and amenities (Weise 2012).
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One of the current marketing trends in the credit card industry has been to connect special amenities, services and exclusive offers to particular credit cards. For example, having access to an American Express Gold, Platinum or Centurion card enables a person to freely access exclusive airport lounges, avail of cash back promos and even gives them the ability to have items freely delivered from the store to anywhere they wish. The reason such services are included with the card package is due to the fact that ownership of particular credit cards these days has actually become a status symbol and, as such, it becomes necessary to entice certain consumers to own particular cards by attaching special bonuses that come with owning one (Wang 2006).
Target Market Growth
It is anticipated that the target market growth for the Silver A-Plus card will be a 10 to 15 percent client base increase per year until full market saturation levels are reached and by that time target market growth will be reduced to 5 to 7 percent annually.
As one of America’s largest and most well established financial institutions, Bank of America has developed an extensive client portfolio which includes several of the richest people within the U.S. Based on its client list as well as records of credit card transactions, the bank is well poised to determine which particular clients would be well suited for the Silver A-Plus card (Aspan & Finkle 2013). Another factor to take into consideration is the fact that the Silver A-Plus card and its ability to be connected to only specific stores for better discounts and services is an option not entirely available with other cards.
One of the current weakness that both Bank of America and the Silver A-Plus card have to deal with is the current economic downturn that has affected the U.S. While it may be true that the banks and several corporations have somewhat recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, the fact still remains that there is still a lingering financial problem with the current economy (Agarwal, Chomsisengphet & Liu 2010).
This leaves many normal and affluent consumers hesitant at even considering using Bank of America as their primary financial institution (Agarwal, Chomsisengphet & Liu 2010). What is necessary at this particular point in time is for Bank of America to improve its image to consumers before any subsequent new product releases are created.
While numerous financial reports within the past few months have indicated that the U.S. job market has not improved by much, they do however indicate that corporate profits have increased. With corporate profits rising and the holiday season closing in, this presents itself as a potentially lucrative opportunity to launch a new credit card line that specifically targets these individuals who all of a sudden have higher salaries and incomes due to increased corporate profits.
Current threats to the successful launch of the Silver A-Plus card come in the form of other banks and credit card companies. The reason for this is that other “luxury” credit cards such as the American Express Centurion card already exist in the market which provides their holders with a wide array of discounts and amenities at several stores already (Ricaldi, Finke & Huston 2013).
The competition that bank will face in releasing this particular type of card will come in the form of other banks and credit card issuers such as Bank of America. These include American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, as well as Wells Fargo. All banks offer different classes of credit cards for different types of consumers. In the case of all these competitors, the “Black card” (based on the American Express Centurion card) can be considered almost equivalent to the Silver A – Plus card due to the similar benefits accrued. In fact, it was due to the cult like popularity of the American Express Centurion card and its subsequent black coloration that many banks followed suit in coloring their high class cards black (Cubitt 2008).
The critical issue that must be taken into consideration in this particular case is if customers will actually go for the Silver A-Plus card? Though the card is able to give significant discounts, amenities and services, it can only do so in select locations and, as such, it is in doubt whether consumers will even go for the card in the first place.
The marketing objectives for this particular endeavor are the following:
- To increase the credit card use of targeted Bank of America clients by 30%
- To achieve a product penetration rate of 60% within the affluent consumer market within New York City.
- To increase consumer awareness of the stability of Bank of America by a margin of 30 to 40 percent before the initial release of the Silver A-Plus card
- To achieve an initial subscription rate of 20% of the targeted market demographic within the first year of release after which subsequent increases in consumer subscriptions should increase by 10 to 15 percent per year.
The marketing strategy for the Silver A-Plus card will revolve around primarily targeting affluent consumers and showcasing the benefits they will get from the card’s usage. After which, the benefits of the card will be compared to the benefits of other credit cards issued by other banks and will show how the Silver A – Plus is a superior means of shopping at specific locations.
The following will be the strategies utilized:
- Promotion through print ads and viral marketing
- Sending out invitations that target specific consumers
- Creating agreements with several of New York’s luxury brand stores
- Establishing new training regimens for store employees to recognize the new cards
- Product – the product in this particular case is the Silver A-Plus card
- Price – the card itself needs an activation fee of $2,000 and a $1,000 subscription cost
- Promotion – promotion strategies will be those previously described in this paper
- Place – the place will be New York City
On average, the card will have a one time activation fee of $2,000 while at the same time have a yearly annual cost of $1,000. The reason for the high cost is connected to the fact that it gives customers access to various services and discounts that would have a net value well in excess of $1,000 but they are able to get it for free due to special agreements between the bank and the store (Birch 2014).
The pricing strategy for this particular card is actually far cheaper as compared to cards issued by other banks. American Express for example has an activation fee of $5,000 for the Centurion card while the Silver A-Plus card only charges $2,000 for the activation. The annual membership cost of the Centurion is $2,500 while the Silver A-Plus is only $1,000.
Advertising and promoting the Silver A-Plus card will involve three specific strategies: direct consumer invitation, targeted commercials and press releases to the general public. In the first strategy, Bank of America will copy the current method of credit card promotion utilized by American Express by sending specific invitations to select customers via mail.
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These invitations will include a summary of the benefits the card would give to the consumer, how much it would cost them per year to maintain, and the selection of stores that they can link to the card. A number or email address will be placed on the invitation that the customer can use in order to directly contact the bank and facilitate the transaction at a later date (Witkowski 2013). The second strategy involves the use of targeted advertisements which showcase the release of the new card via viral marketing campaigns and various TV advertisements.
It is expected that this should drum up sufficient interest for various consumers to call the bank and see if they are eligible to have a Silver A-Plus card (Witkowski 2013). The third strategy involves a press release given to specific newspapers and online bloggers who will then subsequently relay the news via newspapers and online blogs. It is expected that by utilizing this strategy Bank of America will be able to better penetrate the desired consumer market.
In order to determine how well Bank of America would able to meet its market objectives, sufficient market research will need to be conducted. First and foremost, it will be necessary to examine, after six months time, whether the bank was able to increase the credit card usage of its target clients. After which an examination will be needed to see how many current subscribers there are in the Silver A-Plus card program versus the number of estimated credit card users of the targeted demographic within New York City. After combing both data sets, it will be possible to see the degree of market penetration, the level of usage and whether Bank of America was able to meet its market objectives.
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