Can’t even do a debit card right

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

16 February 2010

At least one bank even fails at the simple stuff

I recently went to Wachovia to open a checking account for my 16-year-old daughter. She was especially excited about getting her very own debit card – in particular her ability to choose the design for her card. She didn’t like the “boring standard debit card” that I used, but thought the “Hello Kitty” debit card her older sister had been able to choose at Bank of America was really “cool!” brand developmentUnfortunately, she will have to be content with the “same boring debit card that I use” because Wachovia apparently decided to do away with designer cards, which means that Wachovia even decided not to offer a table stake. A table stake is something you have to have to even play in the game because everyone has them, like good service or free checking. Or designer debit cards. Table stakes rule the banking industry. Most market table stakes because they believe it creates preference. It doesn’t, because everyone has them. But you must have them, otherwise you are eliminated from consideration. Bank of America, the market leader, is the king of table stakes, but it can play that defensive game because of its leadership position. (And, scarily enough, it does a better job of brand than most of its competitors.) Bank of America, like most of its competitors, has designer debit cards. Unfortunately, not offering the table stake of a designer debit card has continued to be an issue for my headstrong teen. Just this morning, she once again asked me when we could switch her account to Bank of America.


I asked here if she was really willing to go through the inconvenience of switching banks because of a “designer” debit card? Her response: An emphatic “Yes!” She believes the choice of design is important because it’s a reflection of her. Apparently, she has even discussed banks and debit cards with her friends. Here’s the thing, we would never tell a financial institution to attempt to win potential customers on what should be a table stake. But not even having one of them may cost it share. In this case, there seems to be an indifference to what the category is embracing as a given. You can’t differentiate by copying the market leader in your offerings and promises. It won’t create preference but it can cause you to be eliminated from the considered set. Ignore it at your own risk. It’s pure brand laziness if you allow the market leader to differentiate itself by something this simple. Ignore the simple and you deserve to loose market share —shame on you. You cannot let free checking; low rates, good service and designer debit cards be the reason a potential customer does not choose you. As much as it’s a hassle to change banks, I think it is much worse listening to a teenager continuing to bagger about a debit card. I’ve banked with Wachovia for eight years now and we may part over something as minor as a picture on a debit card. Guess they didn’t know their customer as well as they thought they did. And believe me when my daughter gets her new debit card, I’m sure all of her 784 Facebook friends will hear about it.

See more posts in the following related categories: bank marketing Bank of America designer debit cards Wachovia


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Use Nextdoor, get rid of Facebook

  Nextdoor   Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 11 December 2018 Use Nextdoor, get rid of Facebook About a year or so ago, I kissed Facebook goodbye. Much to my surprise, it’s making me use NextDoor more. My withdrawal from online communities probably isn’t a shocker...

Brand purpose is not what many think it is

  Brand Purpose   Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 10 December 2018 Brand purpose is not what many think it is So, the marketing term of the year is Brand Purpose, as chosen by the Association of National Advertisers. And what do they use to demonstrate such a term...

Retail market changes are akin to climate change

  Retail market changes   Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 6 December 2018 Retail market changes are akin to climate change Are you paying attention to the many retail market changes? I am. Some fundamental changes are afoot. I believe the days of large generalized...

Stealing Share branding nonprofits

Tired of hearing the same old shit?

We know its crazy. Read our white paper on fixing what's wrong in the banking and finance category.

Congratulations, your white paper will be coming soon!

Share This