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American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

American Express Blue Card


A Brand Analysis

Professor Ki-Young Lee


Principles of Advertising 20062
Group 5 – Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Company Analysis
History
Henry Wells, William Fargo, and John Butterfield, founded American Express in

Buffalo, NY as an express business in 1850 (wikipedia.com). Originally the company

began as a competitor against the U.S. Postal Office beginning with money orders, but

today they offer a wide variety of options (answers.com). The company launched their

Traveler Cheque in 1891 as a solution for the customary letter of credit, and finally their

first credit card in 1958. The company is now competing with three major services,

including travel, financial advice and international banking.

Philosophy
Current American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault states, ―Adaptability is one of the

keys to company success in the rapidly changing terrain of the global marketplace‖

(knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu). According to americanexpress.com, the company‘s

basic philosophy and mission is ―…to be the world‘s most respected service brand.‖

American Express began as a company who believed in serving the people and making

life simpler and have continued to do so, still believing in serving their customers with

―commitment, quality, and integrity‖ (manonamission.blogspot.com).

Sales & Advertising Expenditures


Although American Express believes they‘re a high quality credit card company, their

advertising tactics have previously done little to improve that image. In an attempt to

increase their market share in 1992, the company changed endorsers from Ogilvy &

Mather to Chiat/Day/Mojo. The change wrought debate between cardholders and

American Express due to the reported cost of $60 million for the new ad campaign.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

While American Express was spending money in order increase market share, current

stakeholders felt the company should have lowered discount rates (Giesen).

As a result of the 1992 advertisement disaster, American Express‘ brand goal was to

―support all American Express cards,‖ according to newswire.ca. In the past ten years,

American Express‘ has moved away from the controversial advertisement that promoted

excessive spending, to celebrity endorsed ads that promote the catch phrase, ―My Life.

My Card. American Express‖ (Giesen). As a result, the company‘s market value shot up

to $70 million dollars as of February 2007 according to finapps.forbes.com.

Market Analysis
Overview
The U.S. credit card market is the most developed in the world, with consumers spending

more on credit and holding more cards in their wallet than those of any other country. In

terms of value, the U.S. counts for 53.1% of the global retail lending market (U.S. –

Retail Lending). The chart below shows the market share for the most prevalent regions.

United States Retail Lending Market Segmentation


(Year: 2004)

Geography Percentage
U.S. 0.531
Europe 0.299
Asia-Pacific 0.151
Rest of the World 0.019

Currently, bank credit cards account for roughly 18% of personal consumption

expenditures made by U.S. consumers (Personal Credit Institutions). Retail credit cards

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

and debit cards account for another 6%. According to CardWeb.com Inc., debit and credit

cards account for roughly 30% of all U.S. spending.

Market Size
The U.S. retail lending market had a total outstanding credit balance of $10,847.7 billion

in 2004, representing a compound annual growth rate of 10.5% for the five-year period

spanning 2000-2004 (U.S. – Retail Lending). In comparison, the global market

experienced a growth rate of 8.6% during the same period. The consumer credit sector

was valued at $2151.4 billion and held 19.8% of the market share in 2004, as shown in

the chart below.

United States Retail Lending Market Segmentation


(Year: 2004)

Category Percentage
Mortgage 0.802
Consumer Credit 0.198

In the mid 2000s, the average American consumer was estimated to have 11 credit

obligations on record with a credit bureau (Personal Credit Institutions). Of these, 7 are

credit cards. The U.S. lending market experienced increasingly high growth rates in the

past five years, with a high of 10.9% in 2004 (U.S. – Retail Lending).

Growth
The U.S. lending market is forecast to grow at a lower rate than in previous years, with an

anticipated compound annual growth rate of 6.2% for 2004-2009 (U.S. – Retail Lending).

This is expected to drive the market‘s outstanding balance to $14,634.6. The chart on the

following page shows the expected growth rate for the entire global market.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

United States Retail Lending Market Value


(Units = USD)

Year Value Growth


2000 7270300000000 0.095
2001 7960800000000 0.101
2002 8761000000000 0.109
2003 9717400000000 0.116
2004 10847700000000 0.105
Compound annual growth rate 2000-2004 0.105

Growth within the U.S. market can be attributed to the country‘s increasing Internet

culture, which has caused a significant increase in the number of customers using Internet

and telephone banking (U.S. – Retail Lending). The increasing popularity of credit cards

has also played a part in the market‘s growth.

Trends
Credit companies have become more and more instrumental in educating consumers in

the management of personal finance, particularly in advising against over-borrowing and

improper management of finances (Personal Credit Institutions). American consumers

along the East Coast states have also been taking advantage of access to free credit

reports as well (U.S. – Retail Lending). This trend has resulted in better-informed

consumers who borrow with more ease and confidence. There‘s also a growing trend

among consumers to tap into funds using home equity credit as well as debit cards, which

provide the ease of use of credit cards without carrying a balance.

Competition
Visa currently operates as the leading consumer payment brand in the world, ahead of

both MasterCard and American Express. Most of the difference in market share is

attributed to aggressive co-branding programs taken on by individual companies.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Uncontrollable environmental factors also have the potential to affect the retail lending

market, such as in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the assets and livelihoods of

the U.S. market‘s consumers. In response, companies were forced to offer relief strategies

to affected borrowers, including a reduction or suspension of mortgage repayments and

changes to the terms of clients‘ mortgages (U.S. – Retail Lending).

Consumer Analysis
Market Segmentation
American Express offers a line of credit to any U.S. citizen who is making $10,000 a year

or more. They offer four main different types of cards, those being Gold, Platinum,

Green and Blue. Each card offers different plans and benefits and each card can also be

further segmented to fit a customers exact needs.

The Green Card is American Express‘ most basic line of credit. With the Green Card,

American Express‘ Membership Rewards program can also be used to earn points to be

redeemed while shopping, traveling or towards entertainment. The American Express

Gold Card is a card more specifically targeted towards individuals who travel and attend

entertainment events often. With this card the Membership Rewards is highly emphasized

with points redeemable for ―tickets to exciting theater, concerts, sporting events, and

family entertainment events‖. With American Express‘ Platinum Cards you can ―get

room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, late checkout, and special amenities around the

world with the Fine Hotels & Resorts program‖. This card is designed especially for

world travelers, who don‘t just like to travel but who like to travel comfortably and no

doubt have the means to do so. The Blue Card offered by American Express is the next

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

step up from the Green Card for those interested in being able to manage accounts online.

This card is emphasized as the card for the individuals of today, offering card

management online including balance transfers and bill payments, point rewards with 125

online brand name retailers, double points awarded when travels are booked online using

American Express Travel. This card is all about convenience of accessibility through the

Internet. In connection with this card another product that American Express can provide

for a small extra fee is a protection plan against card theft. Another feature that the Blue

Card has that the others do not is Blue Cash, which is an ―unlimited cash back financial

tool‖. With this feature users can use their reward points to earn cash back.

Prospective Consumers
American Express has highly segmented variations of each card, offering upwards of 30

different variations in all. One of the better-known programs for a more segmented

market is American Express‘ Corporate Card program, designed for businesses. The

Corporate Card offers ―practical solutions to the expense management challenges facing

growing companies‖ and ―options to help you better manage business expenses‖. With

different specialized programs designed for small businesses to Fortune 500 companies,

American Express truly does tailor every credit line to their customers‘ needs.

Out of all of the different consumers that use this product most are individuals or

businesses looking to establish a line of credit with a well-known company that offers its

customers many different types of rewards and benefits for utilizing its services. The

rewards that American Express offers to its customers offer true benefits to its users,

encouraging many people to switch to American Express.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Brand Analysis
Current Situation
American Express‘ sales as of February 1st, 2007 were at $58.22 Price/Sales Ratio 2.64.

Their Shares Outstanding was at 1,204 million, and their Market Capital at $70,096.9

million. American Express has many different cards for many different target markets,

with special benefits that vary among each. Most of the attributes include the same perks

such as no annual fee, 0% intro APR and Fee-free rewards program.

Target Market
American Express Blue is targeted toward students, with fast and simple services.

ExpressPay is a way to buy things using the card without having to swipe. This creates

convenience as well as promptness—as the company understands that students hate

waiting and they want transactions to be quick.

Benefits
The fundamentals of the Blue card include guaranteed protection for shoppers and

travelers. Some examples include the global assist hotline for customers traveling for

more than 100 miles away from home, which provides security and peace with medical,

legal, financial or other emergency assistance right besides them. The purchase protection

plan allows consumers to shop with confidence where the plan protects eligible purchases

made with the card against accidental damages and theft for up to 90 days from the date

of purchase. American Express is holding themselves accountable for a lot of heavy

issues but users will feel like they are being thanked for choosing American Express.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Competitive Analysis
Overview
The top bank credit card issuers in the United States are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup,

MBNA, American Express, Bank of America, Discover, Capital One, HSBC, Providian,

Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo (Personal Credit Institutions). These are American

Express‘s direct competitors. Debit cards are an indirect competitor to all companies—as

they‘ve been found to be more popular than credit cards.

Top Direct Competitors – Brands


- Visa Visa is owned by 20,000 member financial institutions, which issue and market
their own Visa products and participate in the VisaNet payment system (Personal
Credit Institutions).

- Mastercard Serving nearly 25,000 member financial institutions worldwide,


MasterCard is the #2 payment system in the U.S. The company provides services in
more than 210 countries and territories, and its cards are accepted at more than 23
million locations around the globe. MasterCard also operates the Cirrus ATM
network.

- DiscoverDiscover Financial Services (DFS), a business segment of Morgan Stanley, is


best known for issuing Discover-brand credit cards, which are used by some 50
million members at more than 4 million retail and cash outlets.

Top Direct Competitors – Card Issuers


- JPMorgan Chase The company broadened their target audience with two new ad
campaigns in 2006—a Spanish language television ad for the company, and a feature
to their cards designed to bring greater protection to corporate supply chains as
businesses aim to remain compliant with international trade and security laws.

- Citigroup The world‘s pre-eminent financial services company, with some 200 million
customer accounts in more than 100 countries (U.S. Retail Lending). It provides
consumers, corporations, governments, and institutions with a broad range of
financial products and services.
- Capital One Emerged as one of the America's largest consumer franchises with almost 50 million
customer accounts and one of the nation's most recognized brands because of their mission foundation
(Capital One services).

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

- Morgan Stanley In addition to corporate investment banking services like securities underwriting and
mergers and acquisitions advice, the firm offers brokerage and asset management products and
services for institutional and individual investors (Morgan Stanley).

Market Share
Combined, the top ten bank credit card issuers held over 85 percent share of the U.S.

credit card market (Personal Credit Institutions). Total Visa cards in circulation in 2004

exceeded 1 billion worldwide, and annual transaction volume exceeded $1.1 trillion.

American Express accounted for 22.3 percent of the $1.58 trillion rung up in credit-card

transactions last year, ranking it third after Visa and MasterCard (Sidel and Athevaley).

Distribution & Sales


American Express tends to seek any venue where customers of the demographic they‘re

seeking will be engaged, while Visa and MasterCard generally target a large audience

(Jalili). In the past year, American Express has been generating additional spending by

entering into relationships with certain banks, including Citigroup and Bank of America

(Sidel and Athevaley). Under those agreements, the banks are issuing cards that are

branded with the American Express name and processing the transactions over American

Express‘s proprietary network.

Features
Visa and MasterCard both have several cardholder perk programs, but almost all of them

are offered through the card networks‘ bank and co-brand partners. Rewards have

become lavish in recent years, with offerings including cash-back rewards as high as 5%

on Discover cards, rewards points toward purchases at Disney theme parks on Chase

cards, and oil changes, tire rotation, and tune-ups on Bank of America Cards (Sidel and

Athevaley). The American Express Blue cards aim to help maximize cash rebates.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

Cardholders can earn 1 percent back at grocery stores, drugstores, and gas stations, and

0.5 percent back on most purchases until they‘ve charged $6,500 (Stern). Then it‘s 5

percent on those everyday categories and 15 percent on everything else, with no cap.

Promotional Expenditures
Advertising spending by the leading credit card networks, including Visa, MasterCard,

Discover, and American Express, exceeded $800 million in 2001 (Personal Credit

Institutions). Marketing dollars spent by individual card issuers, such as banks, totaled

roughly $10 billion that year. In promoting its Blue card, American Express launched a

contest offering cash prizes up to 50,000 for Java developers to create new uses for the

card (Bryant). MasterCard has set aside part of a $50 million fund to invest in high-tech

companies that develop new uses for its smart cards. It has also donated $5 million to set

up the MasterCard Future of Transactions Laboratory at MIT to research such things as

new smart-card tricks and mobile shopping.

American Express made its ―My life, my card‖ campaign omnipresent by boosting media

spending nearly 37 percent to $602 million (Frazier). In the face of that challenge, both

Visa and MasterCard each spent about half that amount. Still, Visa edged upward 0.4

percent to 52.1 percent market share and MasterCard declined imperceptibly in share as

American Express grew 0.4 percent to 16.5 percent.

Visa and MasterCard are also attacking the market with new or augmented messages.

Visa recently launched a new campaign, ―Life takes Visa,‖ and MasterCard has added an

interactive twist to its ―Priceless‖ work that encourages customers to fill in the blanks and

write their own ―Priceless‖ campaign (Frazier). The charts below shows the market share

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

and the dramatic jump in advertising spending from 2004 to 2005 among the top four

credit card companies and the top credit card issuers as well:

Credit Card Market Share Market Share Ad Spending Ad Spending


% 2005 % 2004 2005 2004
Visa 31.58 32.3 $360.2 million $11.4 million
MasterCard 22.1 22.9 $340.6 million $15.2 million
American 16.5 16.1 $420.9 million $36.5 million
Express
Discover 3.9 4.0 $83.8 million $21.2 million

Credit Card Market Share % Market Share Ad Spending Ad Spending


Issuer 2005 % 2004 2005 2004
Bank of America 21.3 10.3 $50.6 million $20.9 million
JP Morgan Chase 20.0 20.0 $126.1 million $84.6 million
Citigroup 16.0 17.2 $315.2 million $411.9 million
American 10.4 9.4 $547.7 million $333.7 million
Express
Capital One 7.7 7.8 $317.0 million $349.3 million
Financial
Morgan Stanley 6.3 6.8 $81.8 million $83.8 million
HSBC Holdings 3.9 3.3 $2.6 million $3.8 million
Washington 2.8 2.7 $0.8 million $0.6 million
Mutual
Wells Fargo 2.5 2.2 $0.0 million $0.0 million
U.S. Bancorp 1.6 1.6 $0.0 million $0.0 million
Industry Totals $2156.0 billion $2039.7 billion

SWOT Analysis &Recommendations


Strengths
- Growth & Marketing Achievement American Express drew in consumers to the Blue
card with a combination of technology and rock ‗n‘ roll marketing. The new card
bowed with a saturation campaign, using media the company had never tried before.

- American Express was the first credit card company in the


Innovative Product Features
U.S. to launch contactless credit cards when it unveiled the latest version of Blue. The
Blue card features an embedded computer chip powered by radio frequency
technology.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

- Brand Awareness American Express is distinctly positioned and continues to develop


their whole, overall portfolio strategy. The company ranked No. 14 in Interbrand‘s
latest annual poll of best brands—while its brand value increased 6% over the year.

- Sense of Community Another strength of the company is its established sense of


community among small-business owners, driven through integrated communication
via their website (Maddox).

- Workforce Diversity & Equal Opportunity Employee networks play an integral role in the
overall diversity strategy by helping to support the company's business objectives.

Weaknesses
- Training & Financial LiteracyThere are escalating demands from internal customers, as
well as the need to better educate the American Express staff to improve performance
and create new vision and mission statements (Heal Thyself).

- Cut-backs American Express has just recently ended the 5% and double-cash-back
rebates offered for cardholders who frequent grocery stores and gas stations (Stern).
The latest reward schemes are more complicated, less generous, and require some
planning.

Opportunities
- Further Innovation To attract new customers in a crowded market, American Express
needs to pitch cards with sleek new features that it can pitch to banks, retailers, and
direct-mail companies. The industry can be transformed by tapping into customer
emotions with credit cards exhibiting pictures of their favorite universities, hobbies,
or sports teams. (Sidel).

- Co-branding American Express has seen opportunities for higher growth in the SME
market (Frary). The company could expand further with co-branding into other forms
of travel such as cruise ships or rental agencies as well to promote its brand.

- Product Placement There are stronger opportunities for product placement using more
popular, highly rated television programs and movies alike. Venturing into regular
daytime programming such as the Oprah Show, for example, would create total
product awareness among a huge audience.

Threats
- Competition The credit card world comes hand-in-hand with a very experienced and
aggressive group of competitors who will fight even harder to defend turf they once
claimed as their own.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

- Advancing Technology Trends The technology of contactless payment methods will be


around for a long time, and with this, American Express may lose the edge they‘ve
gained with the initial addition of security features first added to their cards.

Advertising Objectives
Expand customer awareness by 15% within 5 years‘ time and stay ahead of the major

competition by continually implementing the newest technology and security features to

redesign and beef up the American Express Blue card.

Target Market
The Blue card is targeted to individuals with a youthful mindset, who want great value,

financial flexibility and world class customer service. The card is launched to a group of

people who had previously not seen American Express as relevant to their needs,

conceived both in terms of an emotional affinity that would embrace a younger, hipper

and more modern prospect mindset. The intended customers are motivated by a success

that is not just financial, but optimistic and entrepreneurial in spirit.

Intended Message
American Express Co. is the world‘s most respected service brand, aimed at enriching the

lives of American Express customers, their families, and our communities. The company

intends to create a selling experience with honest, open disclosure, with the idea that the

people are in control and managing their own lives, and credit cards are interactive and

enabling devices for self-reliance.

Suggested Course of Action


- Increase Exclusivity American Express has to be a louder voice and get out there on a

more frequent basis to make sure they penetrate through the clutter of the many new

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

product offerings and marketing campaigns of their competitors. By getting their

message out there more frequently and creatively, American Express will increase its

market share. The prospering of the Blue card was a combination of product appeal—

a card with a ―smart chip‖ for secure online shopping—and a seamless multimedia

campaign (Cardona). More than 2 million Blue cards were circulating by mid-April,

with more than half of them to users who didn‘t have another American Express card

before. More importantly, a survey by Brittain Associates, an Atlanta market

researcher, estimates users transferred $1.8 billion in balances from other credit cards.

By making the success of the Blue card known, along with the featured benefits and

services American Express offers, the company can make themselves known and

draw in loyal customers with future products.

- Continued Modernization The card-design boom recently got a boost when American

Express licensed the technology used to create its popular transparent Blue card. The

clear card‘s unusual look received a wave of attention when it was first issued, and

executives say Blue card holders hang onto the card longer than some other versions

and consumers use it more often than the other cards in their wallets. The cards are

like art to the customer. Combining the best of form and function, the Blue card is a

stylish card with state-of-the-art technology, making it easy, secure, and efficient

whether for everyday shopping, travel, or online use. Innovation must continue to be

at the heart of American Express‘ offerings. The company‘s products must remain

unmatched with original features, lifestyle benefits, and services. Lifestyles are

constantly evolving, and consumers are making choices based on what distinguishes

them, such as the car they drive, the clothes they buy, and the places they vacation

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

(Bawaba). With payment cards being an essential aspect of everyday activities, the

card a person carries is not just a payment tool but a lifestyle statement and accessory.

Bottom Line
The Blue card has stemmed from the need to support the growing sophistication in

consumer lifestyle and purchase habits. Those who aspire to have the best and get the

best out of their life should not have to look further than benefits and services of

American Express. The company must aim to redesign its coveted Blue card with the

newest technology and security features every 12 months to maintain public interest.

Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee


American Express Blue Lewis, Li, McMullen, Roth, Yung

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Principles of Advertising 20062 Prof. Ki-young Lee