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Affluent middle class consumers in India demand greater recognition

In an increasingly competitive retail banking market, three-quarters of Indian affluent middle class consumers expect greater recognition and reward for their loyalty according to research by the Collinson Group.  These consumers also expect more personalised communications and services, with 35% of Indian consumers feeling their bank does not know or understand them.

The study of 4,400 affluent middle class consumers (within the top 10-15% income bracket), in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and USA, reveals the changing attitudes and expectations of this group towards banks.  It has found that over half of respondents globally are not satisfied with their banks. This is especially apparent in India, where consumer satisfaction drops to 39% even though 81% consider themselves loyal to their banks.

Christopher Evans, Director at Collinson Group says, “Whilst today the percentage of customers switching their current accounts is low, it is rising year on year. Increased competition and the popularity of easy-to-use comparison websites and switching services, are providing greater choice and creating higher expectation amongst affluent middle class consumers. Knowing your customer and ensuring they feel valued are the key tenets of customer loyalty and banks need to act now if they are to retain their most affluent consumers.”

Banks are losing their position as a ‘one-stop shop’ for financial services, with savvy consumers choosing a range of financial service providers.  Customers are increasingly looking elsewhere for additional services, such as travel insurance and benefits, identity theft protection and gadget insurance—all of which Indian consumers highly value.  Only 25% of affluent Indian consumers purchase travel insurance through their bank, and figures are lower still for identity theft protection (14%), and gadget insurance (13%).  However when a customer does buy additional products through their bank, they are more loyal, with over half (54%) of these customers globally less willing to switch provider. This highlights a dual benefit of offering more premium services such as insurance and assistance which will increase revenue as well as enhance customer loyalty.

“Our research found that not being rewarded for loyalty is the biggest frustration for consumers, as cited by two thirds of respondents globally, ahead of poor interest rates and charging unnecessary fees. Many banks offer standardised, transactional loyalty programmes which rely on traditional points-based rewards. Less than half of affluent middle class consumers are currently members of bank loyalty initiatives and this group are more likely to be members of supermarket, airline, credit card and hotel loyalty programmes ahead of banks, where these programmes offer greater value and appeal.

Evans continues, “With increased competition in the sector, encouraging the most valuable customers to become active members of loyalty programmes can be a powerful tool in improving satisfaction, retention and achieving repeat business.” 

Personalised and consistent communications, rewards and service regardless of how customers choose to interact with a bank is also important for the affluent middle class.  The study has found that customer engagement improves by a third amongst individuals who ‘feel known’ by their bank and a further third for those who say they receive a consistent multichannel service – whether in person, by phone or via digital channels.

Collinson Group research has previously highlighted how today’s affluent consumers place a higher priority on family, altruism and enriching experiences ahead of short-term satisfaction and this is reflected in their expectations of banks.  Over two-thirds globally (68%) expect their banks to be ethical and this figure increases to 79% in India, 81% in China and 82% in the USA.

“Banks need to act now to stop their customers switching and to protect their current revenue.  Middle class mass affluent consumers are increasingly mobile and demand more from their banks” says Evans. “Transparent, ethical behaviour is increasingly important and financial services organisations also need to demonstrate the value of their loyalty programmesto encourage active participation.  Personalised, aspirational and more lifestyle orientated benefitsand rewards, which are more accessible to earn and redeem will enable banking brands to differentiate themselves and attract and retain the most affluent consumers.”
About the research
Research was conducted online by an independent research specialist, Research Now, on behalf of Collinson Group in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the USA and UK with 4,437 consumers within the top 10-15% income during 2014 end.

About Collinson Group
Collinson Group ( is a global leader in shaping customer behaviour to drive revenue and value for clients.

The Group offers a unique blend of industry and sector specialists who together provide market-leading experience in delivering products and services across four core capabilities: Loyalty, Lifestyle Benefits, Insurance and Assistance.

The Group provides unrivalled insight and expertise around affluent consumers and frequent travellers, creating and delivering products and services that increase engagement, loyalty and value for customers. With 25 years’ experience, it is present across 28 global locations, servicing over 800 clients in 170 countries, employing 1,500 staff, and managing over 20 million end customers. Clients include: MasterCard, VISA, Diners, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Air France KLM and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Collinson Group comprises leading brands including: Priority Pass, Columbus Direct, ICLP, Collinson Latitude.


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