Leading U.S. financial institutions grow marketing spend in 1Q11

Financial institutions (FIs) reported continued strong growth in advertising/marketing spending in their quarterly financials.  The 10 leading financial institutions in the chart below spent a combined $3.0 billion on marketing in the first quarter of 2011, a growth rate of 19% over the first quarter of 2010 (and this comes on top of a 18% increase between 1Q09 and 1Q10).  8 of these FIs reported double-digit growth rates in 1Q11, with particularly strong growth rates for Discover (+60%), Capital One (+53%) and Citi (+31%).


For most FIs, this increased marketing has not yet translated into significant revenue growth.  In the coming quarters, they will be expecting to leverage some of the beneficial impacts of their investment (such as growth in checking accounts, as well as improved customer retention and satisfaction) into increased revenue as economic recovery continues.

One FI that can show the bottom-line impact of its marketing investment is American Express.  Following the financial crisis, Amex shifted its marketing focus to drive increases in card spending, which has resulted in strong growth in recent quarters.  In the most recent quarter, its U.S. Card unit reported an increase in card spending of 15%, which translated into a 9% rise in noninterest revenue.