HSBC has unveiled its biggest worldwide marketing
campaign since its highly successful ‘the world’s local bank’
initiative five years ago. The bank is promoting its comprehensive
mass affluent banking and wealth-management service, HSBC Premier,
which it now offers in 35 countries. Douglas Blakey
reports.

HSBC has kicked-off its biggest advertising campaign for more
than five years, promoting the relaunch in May of HSBC Premier, its
mass affluent offering which the bank has restructured as a fully
integrated product line (see RBI 571). A multi-million
dollar marketing campaign was launched on 3 September,
incorporating print, film and online advertising, in the 35
countries where the Premier service is now available. The bank is
also promoting Premier with prominent ads at nine of the world’s
major international airports as well as a number of local
airports.

Premier, which is typically marketed towards customers with around
$100,000 of savings, though the limits vary from country to country
(see table Market Segmentation), has helped HSBC penetrate
emerging wealth markets, particularly in Asia. According to the
bank, the number of customers using Premier grew for the seventh
consecutive year in 2006, to 1.8 million, an increase of 35 percent
compared with 2005.

Speaking at the presentation of HSBC’s second quarter results on 30
July, group chief executive Michael Geoghegan said: “There is an
opportunity to gain significant global market share in this
valuable segment. We believe that, over time, we will add four
million new mass-affluent customers.”

Figures disclosed in HSBC’s 2007 interim report show that in less
than two months following the relaunch of Premier, HSBC signed up
more than 75,000 new Premier customers around the world. “In Asia,
compared with the first half of 2006, HSBC increased the number of
customers in its key Premier segment by 32 percent [and] in the US
Premier customer numbers rose by 21 percent,” said Geoghegan.
“There are around 200 million mass affluent consumers in the world
today and that number is growing rapidly, by as much as 20 percent
a year,” he added.

Asia, where HSBC accrued almost one-half of its pre-tax personal
financial services profits in the first half of the year, will be a
key region for the Premier brand. The bank estimates that the
number of bankable households in the Asia-Pacific region will grow
to 620 million by 2010, of which 90 million are in the affluent
segments. These affluent households could expand further to 136
million by 2020, amassing savings of almost $2 trillion.

In addition to promoting a new Premier logo, the bank has
introduced new technology platforms such as improved internet
banking capabilities. Premier customers will have access to 250
international Premier Centres located in major cities, while more
than 6,000 HSBC branches will offer Premier service points.

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Cross-border portability

The new Premier product line up is one of the few bank accounts
that offers true cross-border portability. Customers are able to
take their accounts, credit history and banking relationships with
them wherever they choose to live and work. The service offers
customers access to dedicated relationship managers, the ability to
pre-open overseas accounts and an online facility to manage all
accounts held with HSBC globally, whichever country they are in,
via a single website.

HSBC has also released a branded Premier credit card, offering
deals from 6,000 merchants in 40 countries with no foreign
transaction fees on purchases made in a foreign currency.

The new ad campaign was developed with the bank’s media partners
WPP JWT, MindShare, Aviator and RMG. Display advertisements will
appear in international publications such as The Financial
Times, Newsweek, The Economist
and Fortune, with
television ads due to run on channels including BBC World, CNN
International, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel.

Andrea Newman, HSBC’s head of brand communications, said: “We
believe that we have developed a global campaign that truly defines
the meaning of the world’s local bank. The television commercials
take an emotionally engaging approach, dramatising the product
benefit via human stories demonstrating how HSBC Premier can help
people explore its opportunities by joining up different parts of
the world.”

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