As Japan′s domestic banking industry deregulates it is forced to confront marketing issues which it never had to deal with under the hothouse conditions that prevailed as recently as five years ago. Citibank, the American consumer banking giant, provided the initial stimulus which led large Japanese city banks to become more market responsive to their small depositors in both their products and promotional strategies. Everything from credit cards to electronic delivery systems, from cash machines to direct marketing have been affected by the retail bank strategy launched by Citibank Japan in 1985. In this situation Citibank, a foreign bank which owns a very small niche in the Japanese consumer banking marketplace, has turned out to be the “mouse” that shocked Japan′s giant “elephant” banks into changing their ways to the benefit of Japan′s bank customers. It has nudged these institutions closer to adopting the global marketing trends affecting consumer banking worldwide.
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