Garanti Bank's cards lead the pack

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on August 2, 2004

Turkey's Garanti Bank has added two new cards to its Bonus Card credit card-based loyalty programme and is demonstrating just how quickly a well designed programme can expand. Following our recent interview with a spokesperson from the bank, we report the programme's latest facts, figures and developments.

According to The Loyalty Guide 2004, in Europe, by October 2002, MasterCard Europe had over 3 million cards in circulation. Until then, the UK had led the co-branded market for MasterCard. Then, with the development of the market in Turkey, the UK was ousted from its top position. At the time, Carol Stanton, co-branding manager for MasterCard Europe said that three multi-partner programmes then dominated the Turkish market and the Garanti Bonus MasterCard had become the largest MasterCard co-brand in Europe, with 1.5 million cards in circulation. Other Turkish MasterCard programmes were the Akbank 'Axess' MasterCard and the Isbank 'Maximum' MasterCard.

The Wise Marketer has recently followed up the progress of Garanti's Bonus Card: progress has been nothing short of astonishing. Garanti now has more than 3.7 million cardholders in Turkey; three million of whom have Bonus Cards. Of these, 100,000 are Bonus Premium cards and 372,000 are Bonus Plus cards. Members can't apply for Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium cards: they are automatically offered to those who have been loyal to the card and the programme. Cardholders who have accumulated a total of 50 million bonuses (approx US$40) in a year qualify for a Bonus Plus card, and if they accumulate another 100 million bonuses in a year (approx US$80), they receive a Bonus Premium card. Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium cardholders earn bonuses that are respectively 50% and 100% higher at non-partner shops.

A "classless" card
According to Mehmet Sezgin, general manager of Garanti Payment Systems, "When talking of prestige in credit cards, Gold and Platinum cards are usually represented by an increased credit limit and a change in the colour of the card. At Garanti Bonus, we wanted to change that system with an implementation that would bring a tangible benefit to the cardholder. With Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium, we wanted to create a 'classless card', available to those of any income group. Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium cards both allow the knowledgeable and loyal consumer to be rewarded more, and the partner merchants to strengthen their relationships with customers".

Sezgin said that cardholders will be encouraged to "shop cleverly" by the new system, and added: "The millions of dollars worth of bonuses that have been redeemed until now have returned as extra turnover to the partner stores. Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium have created higher turnovers and free shopping at partner merchants."

A programme within a programme
In June 2003 Garanti began delivering Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium cards to cardholders who reached the required loyalty levels. Today, there are 472,000 Bonus Plus and Bonus Premium cards, representing 15% of Bonus Card holders. But, due to the high usage of the cards, these upgrade versions represent 32% of total Bonus Card cash volume. And, whereas straight Bonus Card activity runs at an average of 76%, Bonus Plus activity averages 88%, and Bonus Premium is at 92%. This arrangement could be regarded as a tiered loyalty programme. However, it could also be seen as a loyalty programme within a loyalty programme - an interesting concept.

The programme now has over 1,000 merchant partners including Shell, McDonalds, Zara, and Carrefour, with some 52,000 points of sale and a market share of 20% in terms of volume. So far, bonuses worth US$83.7 million have been issued, of which more than US$72.8 million worth have been redeemed.

CRM web site
Garanti has also launched a web site that serves as a source of CRM information for its merchant partners. Information on the site can be used for marketing activities, and includes parameters from consumption habits to demographic structures, and from income levels to the general profiles of the 3.5 million Bonus Cardholders in an easily understood, measurable and comparable format. The data is aggregated but if merchant partners wish to communicate with a specific customer group, they can do so through Garanti Payment Systems.

Data available to merchant partners includes information on the active/inactive status of customers, inactive Bonus Card users who could possibly be activated, the number and value of transactions of customers on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, customer demographic information, frequency of shopping at the partner merchant, sales on the basis of points of sale and POS terminals, and sales trends according to the days of the week. They can also access the amounts spent on the card by their co-branded Bonus Card holders, classified by parameters such as time intervals, sectors, and others. They could, for example, provide special offers on customers' birthdays. No equipment other than a PC and access to the internet is needed.

For additional information:
·  Visit Garanti Bank at
·  Visit Bonus Loyalty at
·  Visit The Loyalty Guide 2004 at