Amenities to attract highly skilled and creative persons at all important levels ? Tradition of closeness to key customers and target customers A business can differentiate itself by performing its existing value activities or reconfiguring in some unique ways. And the sustainability of that differentiation will depend on two things: a continuation of its high perceived value to buyers and a lack of imitation by competitors. There are many alternative strategic directions in which Barclaycard could implement in their current strategy of differentiation. These may include technology innovation or product/ service differentiation.
Product/service differentiation Product differentiation occurs “when, owing to differences in physical attributes, ancillary service, geographic location, information, and/or subjective image, one firm’s products are clearly preferred by at least some buyers over rival products at a given price” (, 1990, ). For firms seeking to make their demand curve less elastic, successful differentiation provides an insulated position against competitors by enabling firms to sell a larger quantity at a given price or by allowing the firm to create brand loyalty in customers resulting in lower sensitivity to price.
This uniqueness may build an entry barrier for competitors to overcome (, 1992; , 1980). However, being unique may require a trade-off with investment if achieving differentiation requires costly effort such as extensive research, product design, high quality materials, or intensive customer support. Thus, the firms employing the differentiation strategy cannot ignore costs and risk (, 1980). Horizontal product differentiation focuses on differences in attribute variety among competing brands. It occurs “when one brand contains more of some attributes but less of some other attributes in comparison to another brand” ().
Consumers’ different tastes will exploit differing strong and weak points among brands given identical prices (, 1992). The shift towards consumerism is accelerating with significant implications in many of the markets in which we operate. Fundamentally, our view is that consumerism involves a shift in power from institutions towards consumers. The rapid transformation of the credit card industry – first with the severing of the traditional tie between bank accounts and credit cards and second, with the emergence of credit as a true commodity in the credit card industry – illustrates this so well.
Consumers in the past were grateful if they received credit – it was seen as a right granted to a special few by a bank and hence banks held power over individuals. The value proposition was the availability of credit. Technology Innovation In the case of Barclaycard, it is could improve its operations and competitive advantage through real time design data driven tools. This tool would improve their credit limit strategies and increase their interest earning balances. A Fair, Isaac Model Builder for the decision trees may be used as this tool uses historical data to assist in identifying optimal account management strategies.
Fair, Isaac Model Builder for Decision Trees is a PC Windows based application designed specifically to support data driven strategy design. It gives lenders the power to rapidly create new strategies in real time using multiple performance dimensions, to process large datasets rapidly so strategies at any point for greater understanding of the portfolio and transfers strategies to and from production application with ease, putting new strategies into production faster.
This real time, highly interactive approach dramatically shortens the time between strategy creation and roll out. With Barclaycard objectives of the new strategies to increase interest bearing balances, increase turnover, control bad debt, and address attrition, Fair, Fair Isaac can be a big help for the organization. While the average number of cards in a person’s wallet has increased over the last five years, the value to an individual of having multiple cards will diminish in an environment where credit is a commodity.