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Banking and finance- Differentiate to prosper

Jean-Christophe Chantereau

Director of Department, Strategy and Guidance: Finance & Auto



Banking and finance: Differentiate to prosper

Our recent CX+ study, like many others before it, shows that the French still have difficulty differentiating between banks. At Kantar we’ve been developing key ways to set your brand apart.

Lack of differentiation can lead to some bitter realizations, in light of the fact that banks invest nearly €700 million in advertising each year. And the effects over time, with rare exceptions, are usually limited to maintaining positions or market share.

Certainly, we continue to observe some broad lines of differentiation:

  • The modernity and price competitiveness associated with online banking
  • Proximity to network banks
  • A more humane vision for mutualists
  • More expert advice for so-called “elitist” banks

But all this seems very light in an increasingly fragmented market, where the number of competitors is increasing from year to year, and where new players, including non-bank players and fintech startups, continue to arrive. The attempts at differentiation observed in recent years seem fragile in today’s consumer climate.

- Is the battle of newness sustainable for some online banks that are nearly 20 years old, when the most recent ones are barely two years old and moving fast, offering seamless services and new positioning concepts?

- Will the argument of shopping with banks remain strong when retailer payment systems not only offer free services, but also offer discounts on purchases made online or in their stores?

That said, wanting to please as many people as possible, even if it means not really standing out, can be a risky gamble. The results of our recent study confirm this. Here’s how the four leaders in our ranking have chosen positioning axes that are differentiated, while having a positive impact on customers:

Boursorama Banque and Fortuneo stand out for their promise of autonomy and self-care (while also playing the price card). Boursorama Banque’s clients now rate their digital experience 2.3 times better than those of its competitors.

Crédit Mutuel strongly emphasizes its mutualist character and the trust that results from it. (A bank that belongs to its customers changes everything.)

CIC emphasizes personalization, valuing the one-to-one relationship in its agencies.

The results of these four banks in our CX+ study show that proactive differentiation strategies can achieve great success. All the more reason for them to stay the course, in order to ensure consistency between their promise and the experience they live because, faced with multiple choices, consumers will pay more attention to the few banking brands that make sense to them and cultivate their differences.