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It looks like this is the season for refreshes and relaunches. American Express has been on a refresh spree. Amex started by making changes to the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum Card, followed by changes to their co-branded Delta card portfolio, with sign-up bonuses up to 80,000 Delta SkyMiles. Last week, Amex refreshed the Green Card, with a 45k sign-up bonus. Is Chase now about to make changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Card Benefit Surveys

If you look at the inner workings of any consumer facing business, you’ll find that marketing departments are tasked with the work of monitoring and understanding consumer behavior. This extends beyond merely coming up with a product that resonates with consumers. As products go further along their life cycles, competition often catches up.

The Marketing department has to constantly feel the pulse of the customer to understand how they’re reacting to what’s happening in the market. Given that it’s been over 3 years, one can safely say that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a pretty mature product in its life cycle.

Consumer Feedback

Marketing Departments can use a variety of tools at their disposal in order to understand consumer behavior patterns. Banks already have spend data which they can slice and dice. This gives them insight into which categories consumers are actually spending money in.

Product Refreshes

Product refreshes or relaunches are often preceded by extensive data collection efforts to look at consumer behavior. This can be in the form of focus groups, customer centric events, in person interviews or surveys. Chase is currently sending out surveys to some of its current cardmembers about the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Since Chase is sending these surveys out to existing customers, the focus clearly seems to be on customer retention and increasing the existing share of wallet.

Design Refresh

Doctor of Credit reports that Chase has sent out surveys to customers to seek feedback about design choices for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. At the moment, it looks like they’re seeking feedback only on the design. However, if Chase refreshes their product, I doubt that they would just restrict it to a design change.

Design, just like other factors, is a means of communicating with consumers. If you ask me, I care more about a card’s benefits more than its design. If Chase feels the need to update the card design, they’re surely putting some thought into positioning the card in a certain way vis-a-vis its competition. Also, with these surveys, they’re looking to gauge whether a significant chunk of their existing customer base wants a design update.

The Pundit’s Mantra

I will be surprised if Chase ends up doing just a design update to the card. I don’t find the new designs in the survey particularly appealing if you compare it to the existing design. However, this survey tells me that Chase’s strategy is clearly oriented towards product development and customer retention.

I hope that Chase doesn’t adopt Amex’s breakage strategy. That would entail them increasing the annual fee and then coming up with a ‘credit’ to offset it.

If Chase makes changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which new benefit would you like to see? Do you find any of the new designs impressive? Let us know in the comments section.

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