HSBC was known as the “world’s local bank”. It positioning itself as a globe-spanning financial institution with a unique focus on serving local markets. HSBC was firstly established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and the United Kingdom. The bank works hard to maintain a local presence and local knowledge in each area in order to remain close to its customers.
“Our position as the world’s local bank enables us to approach each country uniquely, blending local knowledge with a worldwide operating platform”, said by HSBC’s former chairman, Sir John Bond.
In order to reach its target and successfully marketing in the international market, the bank must segment the market, select the appropriate target, and develop the offering’s value positioning. The formula “segmentation, targeting, positioning (STP)” is the essence of strategic marketing.
Process of STP
Market segmentation was first defined as ‘a condition of growth when core markets have already been developed on a generalized basis to the point where additional promotional expenditures are yielding diminishing returns’ (Smith, 1956). People gradually believe that segmentation form an important foundation for successful marketing strategies and activities. The purpose of market segmentation is to leverage scarce resources and to ensure the elements of the marketing mix are designed to meet particular needs of different customer groups. This allows organizations to focus on specific customers’ needs, in the most efficient and effective way. There is insufficient consideration of how market segmentation is linked to competitive advantage (Hunt and Arnett, 2004).
HSBC use some segmentation methods to divide their broad market into subsets of small market. First of all, they use geographic segmentation which divides their market into geographical units. HSBC had 9500 branches in 85 countries and it is now the second-largest bank in the world. They also use demographic segmentation to divide their markets into different groups according to their age, gender, the amount of income, the ethnicity or religion of the market and the family life cycle. HSBC offered a “smart card” and no-frills credit cards to the underserved student segment and targeted high-value customers with special “Premium Centers” ban branches. They also sponsor more than 250 cultural and sporting events to help the youth, growing education, and embracing communities. In addition, they use psychographic segmentation as well. HSBC demonstrated its local knowledge with marketing efforts dedicated to specific locations. For instance, it held “New York City’s Most Knowledgeable Cabbie” and ran an integrated campaign highlighting the diversity of New Yorkers.
The second consideration is market targeting that required company to select one or more segments to enter. When selecting a segment, the company need to consider whether this segment is measurable, substantial, accessible, differentiable and actionable (Kotler, 2015). Marketers have a range or continuum of possible levels of segmentation that can guide their target market decisions. A bank may not only identify a group of wealthy retired adults but within that group distinguish several segments depending on current income, assets, savings, and risk preferences. When different groups of consumers have different needs and wants, marketers can define multiple segments. The company can often better design, price, disclose, and deliver the product or service and also fine-tune the marketing program and activities to better reflect competitors’ marketing.
For HSBC, it did a great job in market targeting. For example, HSBC undertook “Support Hong Kong” event after SARS. It offered discounts and rebates for those HSBC credit card users who worked in the most affected industries by SARS. This action will definitely attract those people to involve in and bring much more profit to HSBC. Moreover, In New York People who owned an HSBC bank card, checkbook, or bank statement are free to take the BankCab. HSBC also targets consumer niches with unique products and services such as pet insurance. In some degree this is a quite differentiable market targeting.
The last consideration is market positioning which is to design company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the target market. Positioning is the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of the target market (Ries & Trout, 2000). HSBC positioned itself as a globe-spanning financial institution with a unique focus on serving local markets. It raised a campaign of “world’s local bank”. The aim is to link its international size with close relationships in each country. Thanks to its clear and smart positioning strategy HSBC earns high brand loyalty in the worldwide.