Although its customer numbers have surpassed many of its online-only rivals, Smile’s brand awareness is still low due to its limited marketing spend. The bank’s latest catch-up effort is to broaden its product offering by launching an online drinks store, allowing it to take advantage of its links with the Co-op supermarket chain.
UK Internet-only bank Smile has reached the 500,000 customer mark.
UK online bank Smile, owned by the Co-operative Bank, now has over 500,000 customers. This puts it ahead of many of its Internet-only banking rivals: HBOS’ Intelligent Finance has 242,000 customers, and Abbey National’s Cahoot has 300,000. Prudential-owned Egg remains at the forefront of Internet-only banking in the UK, with more than two million customers.
Smile has built its business successfully despite a relatively low marketing budget of GBP4 million. In contrast, Egg has an annual advertising and marketing spend of GBP40-50 million. Intelligent Finance and Cahoot spend GBP8 million and GBP10 million respectively.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these marketing spends are reflected in brand awareness. While Egg enjoys brand recognition of 88%, Smile has only 35%. Intelligent Finance has 44% and Cahoot has 57%. Smile is making efforts to improve its brand recognition. For example, it recently sponsored the British Comedy Awards.
The bank’s latest decision’s to launch an online off-licence will also help take its brand into new areas – and its links with the Co-op supermarket chain will certainly provide it with something to build upon. Smile is already piloting a scheme called ‘drinks2u’ in which it sells and delivers drinks sold at Co-op supermarkets.
However, Smile is not the first UK Internet-only bank to take its brand into new areas. Egg already has joint ventures with retail chain Boots and Bernard Arnault’s French retail empire, while Cahoot offers customers the opportunity to change electricity and gas suppliers through uSwitch.