Friday, January 12, 2007

Platinum in pooR’s country

Today the sentence “A man is known by the company he keeps” can easily be interpreted as “A man is known by the card he keeps.” Yes, credit card is fast becoming an expression of a person’s personality and interest. Premium cards are offering everything from exotic holidays at luxury beach resort, Swiss watches, Mont Blanc pens, exclusive dinner at fine restaurants, and access to premier golf clubs as bait to lure high net-worth individuals.

It is estimated that 700000 individuals in India with liquid wealth of US$ 100000 and this number is expected to grow to 1.1 million by 2009. Platinum is the new platform to woo these high income-high spending consumers. Almost every bank now has a Platinum card in its product portfolio. American Express, Citibank, ICICI, Standard Chartered, HSBC, HDFC, Deutsche Bank is eyeing this growing base of HNI’s to get a share of the pie.

What are the banks doing to justify the high membership fee that they charge? Banks are offering ‘refined lifestyle.’ According to a recent American Express Study on Indian affluent entitled, Inside the Affluent Space: Changing Lifestyle Expectations of the Affluent in India reveals an increase in disposable wealth and access is creating lifestyle competition among the ultra rich. With a keen eye for quality products and experiences, they expect to receive tangible recognition of their product use and value for money. The lifestyle, spending power, needs, desires, aspirations and service expectations of the super-premium customer in India are very similar to that of his or her rich and famous peers around the globe.

In order to get more Platinum members, banks will need to reinvent their approach. And what will that be? Maybe very soon they will start offering Porsche Roadsters, Adam A700 Jets, Kiwi Alloy Yachts, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945, Black Dragon Edicion Especial Gurkha, Molasses Reef Villas, Hublot Big Bang, Bvlgari Zero Collection, and Tibaldi Fulgor Nocturnus. Now, even if this cannot satisfy your sparkling new HNI’s, dear bankers shift your focus to micro-credit and rural development.

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