More money than sense

In a world where marketing techniques are becoming ever-more technological, geodemographics increasingly sophisticated and targeting frighteningly accurate, why do high street banks persist in wheeling out tired incentives to recruit prospecti

SBHD: In a world where marketing techniques are becoming ever-more technological, geodemographics increasingly sophisticated and targeting frighteningly accurate, why do high street banks persist in wheeling out tired incentives to recruit prospective young account holders?

Nothing much changes in the way financial services are promoted, more’s the pity. The main objective is still to entice young people to join a bank and prepare them for the appalling service they’ll be offered through the rest of their lives.

National Westminster Bank, for example, is offering pizzas and CDs to anyone between 13 and 20 who opens an account with as little as £1. Surely anyone with a modicum of sense would open a bank account with £1, take the offer and then leave the money to fester and devalue in the vaults of NatWest. I know it costs considerably more than £1 to open and service an ac-count, but the incentive obviously works, or the bank wouldn’t keep repeating it.

I wonder whether the pizza chains have ever sold a pizza or have they merely given them all away. No wonder the “yoof” of today are partially deaf and have faces that look like Napoletanas with extra mushrooms – it’s all that loud music and pizza.

After opening an account at NatWest, pop down the road to Lloyds. Why? Because you can win a JVC hi-fi or a Sony Discman to play the CDs you just got at NatWest (while eating your pizza). And guess what? You only need £1 to open the account!

When you open a Headway account at Lloyds, as well as receiving a wallet stuffed with “free gifts, discount vouchers and special offers”, there is the chance to win a hi-fi in a special competition. However, such promotions inevitably reduce response. Young people are as averse to tie-breakers as anyone else, so why doesn’t Lloyds run something that is easier to win? Factorials, for instance, make entering a lot easier, leading to more accounts being opened. No pizzas though. Shame about that.

Through Lloyds, you can also get 50 per cent off your first driving lesson with the AA if you are aged 17 and over. To open a Headway account, however, you need to be part of the 11-to-17 age group. I doubt the AA will get too many redemptions.

It is a great pity the banks don’t realise that not all youngsters live for music and pizzas. Some aspire to bigger and better things, and perhaps if the banks steered youngsters through the traumas of life, they might be taken a little more seriously by the consumers they want to attract in the future.

Finally, the chance to win £10,000 for your own millenium fund with the Bristol & West. It’s a free draw open to anyone when they ask about a Tessa.

So, after the pizza from NatWest and the hi-fi from Lloyds, head down to your Bristol & West and ask about Tessa (nice girl). You could win £10,000 for doing bugger all.

Simon Mahoney is promotional director of SMP.

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