Grocers pose 'serious' bank threat

The traditional high street banks face a serious threat from the supermarkets' moves into financial services as consumers perceive "normal" banks as "arrogant" and "unhelpful" with poor levels of service. In contrast, the supermarkets are viewed as helpful, friendly and with opening hours that suit their customers.

The findings are the result of an on-going "Mind and Mood" research project run by FCB, the London advertising agency. It has interviewed 3,000 people as part of an attitudes survey which holds over 100 discussion groups a year and is described as the largest continuing qualitative project of its kind being undertaken in the UK. The research shows that banks are seen as austere places "which think they are doing you a favour by offering you facilities" and which offer products they are keen to sell rather than those its customers really need.

By contrast, comments made about the new supermarket banks operated by Tesco and Sainsbury were far more positive. The expectations of these new banks is that they will be service-oriented with longer opening hours, friendlier staff and simple systems.

But though the brand names of the supermarkets are trusted more than those of the banks, the research highlighted potential problems if the supermarkets make mistakes with their banking operations.

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