Re-Inventing Your Products: Citibank Example

If you’ve heard me speak, read any of my books or have been on my newsletter list for any length of time, you know that I am a big believer in the mantra “Adapt or Die”

A key part of this idea is to find the right “product”, for the right customer, at the right time.

Let me take that last sentence one phrase at a time – but I will do so in reverse order.

The Right Time – Times have changed. Customer needs have changed. Have you changed with them?

The Right Customer – Not all customers are created equally. Some are better buyers than others. If you look very carefully at your sales figures and you split revenues by strong buyers vs. weak buyers, you will noticed commonalities amongst thestrong.

Who are TODAY’S buyers who are buying in TODAY’S economy?

The Right “Product” – I put the word product in quotes deliberately. Most CEOs have mentally boxed their company’s identity based on the physical product (or the core service) they sell.


  • We sell concrete
  • We are a general contractor
  • We provide banking services
  • We are a consulting firm

The self imposed definition is very category centric.  This is a mistake.

Customers don’t buy products or services because they want them. They buy them to get rid of a problem they really hate — and buying  the product or service is the only way to accomplish that objective.

You see you are not in a product business or in a service business. You are in the business of selling OUTCOMES.

The widget is secondary.

Trust me on this, you might want to re-read the last 2 sentences very carefully. It is a “writer-downer”.

Okay, so here’s my big example of the day.

Citibank is teaming up with Visa to offer a new kind of credit card.  It is a credit card where you as the borrower, can give Citibank your monthly budget by expense category and they will de-activate your card when you exceed it.

So if your budget allows for $500 for eating out, when you charge your 501st dollar of the month, the charge gets declined (but still works for other expense categories).

I think this is brilliant.

It is the PERFECT consumer credit product for the times.  Wild spending is out. Frugal spending is in.

Why should someone switch from a Capital One Visa, Bank of America Visa, or Chase Visa to a Citbank Visa?

Up until now, there wasn’t much of a reason. A credit card is a credit card is a credit card right?  (That’s widget thinking at its best)

Citibank is now re-inventing (I love that word) the credit card as a household budget enforcement tool.

How many consumers have household budget management problems? A LOT.

Like I said, the “right product”, for the right customer, at the right time.  Get the 3 to line up, and you get a winner on your hands.

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