American Express [Amex]: Social Media Analysis

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1.) Introduction: 

Amex’s business model generates revenue from both the consumer and the merchants through expenditure on its credit cards, and finance charges and fees. (MarketLine, 2016) Although Amex provides a wide range of specialized card services and privileges and discounts across the globe, we will be focusing our attention on the Singapore market, specifically the American Express Platinum Credit Card (“Amex Platinum”) product.

The Amex Platinum gives cardholders access to what Amex describes as “Singapore’s Ultimate Dining Programme”, which notably includes the Far Card Dining Membership and the Palate Membership amongst other dining privileges. Beyond food offerings, Amex Platinum also grants cardholders exclusive lifestyle privileges ranging from nightlife to golf to movies, and attractive offers on hotel and flight bookings. Overall, the Amex Platinum is a premier lifestyle credit card that targets the mass middle-income population segment with its minimum income requirement of SG$50,000 per annum.

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American Express (AMEX)

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Background
American Express Company (hereon known as “Amex” or “the company”) is one of the largest providers of travel related services and payment services in the world. Together with its subsidiaries, Amex provides financial products and services to individuals, businesses, corporations and institutions. It has a worldwide presence, although the company’s chief market is the US.

The company consists of four business segments: US card services (“USCS”); Global Network and Merchant Services (“GNMS”); international card services (“ICS”); and global commercial services (“GCS”).

Importance of Social Media to AMEX
Let’s face it. American Express credit cards are not the cheapest to own for consumers nor accept for retailers. Yet American Express has been steadily succeeding at charging a premium above its competitors. The reason is simple: Amex offers quality service. In the past, quality service was rendered through toll-free hotlines or fast response emails. As social media increasingly become the mainstay of communication, Amex has evolved to render quality service through the said new form of digital communication. According to the Annual Financial Report for FY15, there are two aspects of Amex’s leverage on social media for quality service:

1)  Direct communication
First, Amex’s customer service-related Twitter account, @AskAmex (its US-based customer service handle). The account is used to field questions from card holders in real-time between the hours of 9am to 10pm in the US. Combined with AMEX 24/7 customer service department available by phone, email, or even post this contributes to the impression that every effort is made to address problems – that the company is not afraid of complaints or difficult requests, and that there is always someone available to help.

2) Engagement
Second, with a certain degree of overlap with the abovementioned point, Amex makes use of social media to engage customers. Relevant use of multiple channels to keep its customers engaged with the brand, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for card holders to communicate their issues directly and have them speedily resolved. Social media channels, particularly Twitter and Facebook, is used frequently as part of its customer engagement strategy, posting new deals and offers to its @AmericanExpress Twitter account (which has 832,146 followers) and Facebook page (which has over 5.7 million likes) to keep card holders engaged and as yet another marketing channel highlighting the Amex brand message of quality service.

With the combination of customer service and engagement, American Express’s rewards are some of the most retention-focused and therefore ultimately more valuable to the brand in the long term in the market. They provide a combination of positive experiences, largely through direct interactions and customer service and generous financial rewards, Amex makes its card holders feel they are valued, and that they are getting good value for their money.

Research Question:
How can American Express expand its consumer base by targeting youths aged 18-24, while retaining its luxurious brand image and complying with all credit regulations?

We look to convince parents that when youths come to age, granting a supplementary card is a sign of maturity and trust. We aim to convince youths that having an Amex card is cool, granting  unparalleled access to certain privileges.

Value of the study is to increase the credit card usage rates further by targeting the youth consumer segment (18-24) through the changing of current social norms where consumers only apply for credit cards after they start working.

Methodology:
A. Secondary research

    1. Find demographics of credit card and supplementary card users
    2. Find food and entertainment trends among youths
    3. Find social media usage patterns among youths

B. Primary research

    1. Focus group to collect youth’s perception of credit cards
    2. Focus group to collect youth’s perception of AMEX compared to other brands

Social Media Strategy & Objectives:
Targets youths by speaking to their need to be seen as mature and independent enough to be trust by:

    1. Changing the perception of credit cards entitlement among youths.
    2. Making youths realise the perks associated with getting a credit card through word of mouth from peers and social media platforms (mainly Instagram and Facebook).
    3. Attaching the image or mindset that youths should be given a credit supplementary card when they “come of age” as an overarching social media campaign.
    4. Create a new market of youth supplementary card users.

Conclusion:
By introducing a youth-centric supplementary card, we can target a whole new untapped segment, and this needs to be done through an effective social media campaign.

Group 5- Weijun, Shaun and Rachel