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Kevin J Clancy - Marketing Transformation
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Hall of Fame


Ethicon Endo_Surgery

From local commodity to
national media superstar


  • Citizens Bank received its first deposit from the daughter of a vice president at the bank on April 19, 1871, and grew slowly in its home state of Rhode Island over the next 100+ years.

  • Purchased in 1988 by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citizens management was charged with the mission of rapidly growing the bank organically and through acquisitions.

  • Research told them consumer and business customers perceived little difference between banks and suffered from massive inertia when it came to switching.


  • Banking is now a two tiered industry—two levels of commodity service: large vs. local banks.

  • Banking customers were generally dissatisfied with service at super regional banks, but thought is was easier to suffer than switch.

  • While customers appreciated the higher level of service at local banks, they also recognized their limitations (fewer ATMs, products and services, etc.)

  • All agreed that there wasn’t a bank that made them feel special.

Strategic Research

  • Citizens launched a brand strategy study in the New England markets where it already had a presence and where it hoped to expand.
  • The attitudes, behaviors, needs, problems and motivations of key groups of banks customers, both retail and businesses, were studied.
  • Customers were exposed to different positioning concepts and asked about their perceptions of different banks.
  • Importantly, research and analysis went beyond a rank order of what retail/business customers said was important to determine what truly “motivates” them. The answer was not lower prices.

Consumer Segmentation for a Regional Bank

Citizens Chart

Strategic Options

  • Leverage its position as the local favorite in its home state where it was already well-known and look for merger opportunities to expand into new areas.

  • Offer the lowest fees and best interest rates in the market, restructuring the organization to become the low cost competitor.

  • Position the company as a bank that makes its customers feel special, that offers exceptional levels of personal service, in order to generate significant organic growth.

Strategic Choice

  • Larry Fish, Chairman, President, and CEO of Citizens Bank, and Theresa McLaughlin, Executive Vice President and Director of Marketing, decided on the third option, to become the bank that makes customers feel special, and moved ahead with the development of an array of services to deliver on the brand’s promise of exceptional service.

  • Among other things, Citizens extended branch hours and opened on Sundays, launched a switch concierge service, expanded into grocery stores, and empowered and rewarded staff for going to great lengths to help customers.

  • It also launched an advertising campaign which, under the tagline “Not Your Typical Bank,” demonstrated how the bank makes customers feel special.

Citizens Bank

An example of a billboard seen throughout New

Citizens Bank

Performance Results

  • Penetration of the Citizens positioning has hit record levels for the bank and the industry.

  • Citizens commands the highest level of customer satisfaction in the region.

  • Citizens is now the #2 bank in the nation in terms of the number of instore locations.

  • The bank’s assets have grown from $3 billion to $160 billion.

  • Citizens is one of the 10 largest banks in America.

  • CEO Larry Fish is heralded as a banking genius by the business media.


Selected Case Histories

  Air Products
  Citizens Bank
  Ethicon Endo-Surgery
  Green Mountain Energy
  On The Run