Financial brands tap big data

13 September 2012

NEW YORK: Financial brands like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Discover Financial Services are heightening their focus on big data.

Bank of America is tracking information including spending and demographic data, and is increasingly tailoring promotions, for example by targeting cardholders with children with back-to-school deals.

It has also offered rewards to clients who use several of its products. Recent initiatives include giving extra cashback to credit card customers who also use another the firm's accounts.

Titi Cole, a retail products executive at Bank of America, told American Banker that this programme had "resonated with customers".

Sean O'Reilly, general manager for JPMorgan Chase's Sapphire card, argued that the impetus behind such moves resulted from the fact shoppers are more knowledge, and as competition is rising.

"I think what we see is that customers are extremely savvy today, and there's no shortage of promotional deals in this category," he said.

"We use everything from qualitative data to understanding trends in spending … It's based upon what our customers' needs are and where we see them taking advantage of the card."

The company has also drawn on a raft of information to improve its communications. In evidence, it has found engaging with clients during the first three or fourth months after they open an account is key.

"We put a lot of effort into explaining to them that they made a good choice," O'Reilly said. "That's been a big area of focus at Chase in last couple of years, and we see results in level of spend and level of engagement."

Discover Financial Services, the credit card group, is similarly deploying analytics and segmentation to generate more bespoke marketing programmes and offers based on detailed profiling.

"If spending is sliding, we might offer them a targeted incentive to continue to use Discover as their primary card," Dana Traci, its vice president, rewards, said. "Analysing results helps inform future strategies. If it drives the consumer base, it could become part of our mass strategies over time."

However, Hank Israel, a partner at Novantas, the consultancy, suggested further progress is needed. "A lot of them … dream up a hypothesis and throw it against the wall to see what sticks," he said.

Data sourced from American Banker; additional content by Warc staff