BRAND SPEND ANALYSIS - First-e leads the online blitz on mainstream banks by targeting their best clients

By MARK TUNGATE, campaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 29 November 1999 12:00AM

There is a war raging in the UK banking sector. Traditional banks are under attack from internet banks determined to woo their most profitable clients. With a European Commission report suggesting our mainstream banks are the ones most exposed to new competition in Europe, this trend is not surprising.

There is a war raging in the UK banking sector. Traditional banks

are under attack from internet banks determined to woo their most

profitable clients. With a European Commission report suggesting our

mainstream banks are the ones most exposed to new competition in Europe,

this trend is not surprising.



First-e is a classic example, launching on 18 September as a pioneering

internet bank. Owned by Banque d’Escompte, its brand positioning

combines interest rate leadership with an aggressive anti-bank stance -

a theme used by other direct banking operations.



First-e has a simple approach - to mock non-internet banks for their

high costs and low returns. This is a consistent theme in its press

advertising, with straplines such as: ’A First-e account pays 6.51 per

cent ... where does that leave your bank - the trashcan?’ Other

advertising stresses that First-e has no bank managers, no branches and

no paperwork.



First-e focused solely on the press for its launch campaign and spent

more than pounds 1.2 million: pounds 258,412 in September, pounds

548,784 in October and pounds 469,444 in November. No TV, radio or

direct mail activity has yet been tracked, although First-e has used

outdoor.



The lead creative (accounting for over half of all press spend) uses the

theme ’Someone had to be first. Why not you?’. The titles used by

First-e comprise: the Daily Mail with 15.1 per cent of all press spend

to date; The Mail on Sunday, 12.5 per cent; The Sunday Times, 11.4 per

cent; Evening Standard, 10.7 per cent; The Daily Telegraph, 10.3 per

cent; The Times, 9.1 per cent; The Independent, 6 per cent; Financial

Times, 5.8 per cent; The Sunday Telegraph, 5.5 per cent; The Observer,

4.9 per cent; The Guardian, 4.1 per cent; The Independent on Sunday, 3.1

per cent; Investor’s Chronicle, 1.2 per cent.



Most of First-e’s ads are full page and it has used 11 executions. The

upmarket selection of publications is not surprising given First-e’s

target market.



Consumers are invited to respond to the ads by visiting www.first-e.com,

which raises brand awareness and points people towards the web.



First-e’s pricing strategy is the same as Egg’s, which is to buy market

share by offering rates well above the base rate in the hope of

attracting and retaining affluent customers. This cherry-picking

approach will be crucial to the success of online banks.



What of the future? New entrants’ lower transaction costs certainly give

them a huge competitive advantage and they seem poised to win over the

very customers the mainstream banks are most keen to retain. However,

the big banks are by no means standing still, with most launching their

own internet banking services.





Research by Media Monitoring Services, tel: 01344-627553

www.mediamonitoring.com



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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