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1 - It's about the customer, not the product

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that you do? Do you think, “I am going to buy a personal loan today,” or, “I am going to buy a mortgage”? Even before you brush your teeth, or shower, or have breakfast? Probably not. Very few people do, any more than they wonder whether their deodorant will really last all day.

These are automatic processes. You wake up, you have a shower, and you brush your teeth. You do not think about the brands you are using. You are doing these things to fulfil needs. You are using a deodorant to prevent perspiration and to avoid damage to your clothes, not because it is the leading brand.

Financial services are the same. People don’t want a personal loan: they need the money so that they can buy something that they do want, or so that they can pay some bills. People don’t want a mortgage: they want to buy a home and need to get a mortgage so that they can fulfil that dream.

Financial service products are fungible. This means that they are interchangeable. Money borrowed as a personal loan is exactly the same as money borrowed on a credit card, which is exactly the same as money borrowed as a mortgage. And money borrowed from one bank is exactly the same as money borrowed from another bank. Ok, there may be different prices and conditions, but in essence it is the same.

Why isn’t this clear to so many financial service product managers? We still have many companies trying to justify why their credit cards are special, and why their credit cards are so much more special than those of their competitors.

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