Differentiation strategies of Korean Deposit Money Banks to sustain a competitive advantage in the household savings market
Competition among financial institutions in Korean household savings market (HSM) has become severe. Deposit money banks (DMBs) which have occupied the main prop of the Korean financial system have entered turbulent times mainly due to the relaxation of financial regulations which artificially provide a stabilized market environment, as well as the out-performance of non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs). Also, Korean households are becoming better educated, more sophisticated and richer in line with the increase in wealth of the nation. The market share of DMBs in HSM has gradually declined, but that of NBFIs has continuously increased. Consequently, DMBs are required to do something in the market in order, at least, to survive. As the first step, they should have a clear picture of the external environments which can dictate or affect their operations, along with the full understanding of their internal capabilities. Based on the conditions of external environments and internal capabilities, DMBs have to choose one of the 5Ds (ie. disinvestment, de-escalation, do-nothing, development or diversification) as their strategic direction in the market they serve. However, no matter which strategic direction DMBs choose, they are required to differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to support successfully the implementation of a strategic direction chosen and to achieve competitive advantages in the market they serve. In differentiating themselves from others, DMBs will encounter somewhat different aspects from those firms which produce and sell physical goods mainly due to the characteristics (ie. intangible, inseparable, heterogeneous, perishable and non-owned) of their products. Therefore, DMBs have to use the extended 7Ps in order to overcome the problems caused by the unique characteristics of their products and to differentiate themselves from their competitors effectively in the market. However, the discretion of Korean DMBs to implement the extended 7Ps in the market has been so strictly restricted by the regulation that they can not exercise their full capabilities in the market, and they have a passive attitude towards the implementation of strategies in order to differentiate themselves from others. However, the results of this research - mainly based on the study of the financial systems and regulations of Korea and of households as customers of FIs-HSM, and the surveys for FIs-HSM and Korean households - show the possibility that DMBs can achieve competitive advantages effectively in HSM by differentiating themselves from their competitors, be they other DMBs or NBFIs in HSM. DMBs can freely use some components (ie. promotion, physical environment, personnel as a participant, process) of the 7Ps in the market even though other components (ie. product, price, place) of the 7Ps have strictly restricted use in the market at present. Besides, all components of the 7Ps will be sooner or later free to use for differentiating themselves in the market in accordance with the relaxation of financial regulations. As a conclusion, DMBs have to utilize their capabilities fully in order to achieve competitive advantages in the market and to prepare for future changes in the market by conducting the continuous R&D and market research.