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The role of positioning in the retail banking industry of Sub-Saharan Africa

Charles Blankson (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Seth Ketron (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Joseph Darmoe (GIMPA Business School, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Achimota, Ghana)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate employment of positioning strategies in the retail bank sector of Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically using Ghana as the study context. In addition, it explores the applicability of western-based typology of positioning strategies in the Sub-Saharan African environment.


Six retail banks – three national and three foreign – are studied, each through an in-depth case study method: covert and participant observation techniques; and face-to-face interviews of chief executive officers, marketing managers, and bank branch managers provided data for the study.


The results show that the “service” positioning strategy is the most popular strategy employed by retail banks. “Value for money,” “attractiveness,” “brand name,” and “country of origin” positioning strategies are also dominant. “Top of the range” and “selectivity” strategies are minimally pursued by the sample of banks studied. The results reveal that both foreign and national retail banks employ multiple positioning strategies in the face of competition. However, foreign retail banks consistently employ a; large number of strategies relative to national retail banks. This paper supports the applicability of a western-derived set of positioning strategies in the Sub-Saharan African marketplace.

Research limitations/implications

This study closes a gap in the understanding of positioning, as well as filling the empirical gap in the application of positioning. In addition, it helps resolve a contextual gap of knowledge in Sub-Saharan Africa’s retail banking sector.


This study responds to Porter (1996), Clancy and Trout (2002), and Knox (2004) for continued empirical research in positioning in service industries and specifically in Sub-Saharan African economies (Coffie, 2014, 2016; Coffie and Owusu-Frimpong, 2014). Moreover, this research adds value to the banking and marketing literatures through a qualitative case study method, which is an important yet overlooked research method (Yin, 2009).



The authors are very indebted to the editor of IJBM for his patience, suggestions, encouragement, and guidance throughout the review process. The authors want to express the sincere thanks and appreciation to the reviewers for their thorough review of the manuscript; for their constructive criticisms, comments, and suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript. Finally, the authors must thank all the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) MBA students in marketing who helped in the data collection and for the presentations and discussion in class. The authors sincerely thank GIMPA business school for all the support. The first author acknowledges with gratitude all the support the author received during the tenure as an Associate Professor of Marketing (on sabbatical) at GIMPA between August 2012 and January 2013. Data for this study originate from the first author’s MBA marketing research and MBA marketing management classes that the author taught during the stay at GIMPA. The author expresses the particular thanks to Professor Frank Manu and Professor Samuel Bonsu and all the colleagues of the author at GIMPA.


Blankson, C., Ketron, S. and Darmoe, J. (2017), "The role of positioning in the retail banking industry of Sub-Saharan Africa", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 685-713.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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