Press Release: July 1, 2008 (No Embargo)
Westpac - St George Merger Research
Australian consumers have given Westpac CEO and former St. George chief Gail Kelly a mixed
review in a nationwide media campaign charged with promoting the benefits of a Westpac-St.
George bank merger to customers.
Two in five Australians believe there will be no positive outcomes from a merger between St. George
and Westpac, while a similar proportion (40.8%) of existing St George and Westpac customers
The research was conducted on Monday (June 30) by Australia-based CoreData of some 1,122
individuals, which includes 422 either Westpac or St. George existing customers.
While almost half of both sets of respondents believe there will be some benefits through increased
branch access convenience, 7 in 10 expect job losses and more than 60% expect bank branch
Expected positive outcomes of the merger
St George and/or
Westpac Customers All Australians
Lower fees 7.6% 9.1%
Better quality service 11.9% 13.4%
New jobs 2.8% 3.0%
Convenience through greater
branch network 49.8% 49.4%
No positive outcomes 40.8% 39.0%
Other 10.0% 10.3%
* multiple options allowed n = 422
Expected negative outcomes of the merger
St George and/or
Westpac Customers All Australians
Higher fees 40.3% 38.3%
Lower quality service 34.1% 33.7%
Loss of jobs 69.7% 72.0%
Bank closures 65.9% 63.8%
No negative outcomes 9.0% 8.0%
Other 6.6% 7.7%
* multiple options allowed n = 1,122
63.5% of respondents felt that the main objective of the ad was to offset the negative opinion about
the merger, while 52.6% also thought that ad was meant to associate Gail Kelly’s reputation with the
Kelly’s “open letter” stated that the main consideration for the merger was for customer welfare to be
a top priority.
However, out of the positive outcomes customers felt the merger may bring, only 11.9% believe they
would get better quality service.
Meanwhile, prior to taking part in the research, 11.4% of St George-Westpac customers were
unaware the banks were even in merger discussions, and 36.9% didn’t know who Gail Kelly was.
For non-customers of the banks, these figures were 12.8% and 41.1% respectively.
In her public “open letter”, Kelly encouraged customers to email her their views on the merger.
However, the research findings indicate only one in five St George-Westpac customers and one in
four broader Australians believe the bank is actually interested in what people have to say.
How will sent emails be treated?
Customers All Australians
No one will read the emails 13.7% 13.9%
The emails will be read but the
feedback provided will be
disregarded 65.9% 60.6%
The emails will be read and
the feedback will be taken into
account 20.4% 25.5%
Meanwhile, the feeling is that Westpac shareholders would benefit most from the merger, while
around two-thirds of both Westpac/St. George customers and all Australians in believe the general
public would benefit from a merger of the two groups.
Rank of who will benefit the most from the merger (St George & Westpac
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6
customers 1.9% 4.3% 16.6% 32.2% 33.2% 11.9%
customers 3.8% 5.7% 25.6% 43.6% 18.5% 2.8%
shareholders 26.1% 54.5% 11.4% 4.7% 1.9% 1.4%
shareholders 55.9% 28.9% 9.0% 2.4% 2.8% 1.0%
public 1.9% 1.0% 2.4% 10.0% 20.4% 64.5%
Banks in general 10.4% 5.7% 35.1% 7.1% 23.2% 18.5%
n = 422
Rank of who will benefit the most from the merger (All Australians)
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6
customers 3.0% 5.4% 16.8% 28.9% 37.8% 8.2%
customers 3.4% 5.7% 21.8% 49.7% 16.2% 3.2%
shareholders 27.5% 50.3% 13.9% 5.0% 2.1% 1.3%
shareholders 52.1% 32.6% 7.8% 3.6% 2.7% 1.3%
The general public 2.1% 1.3% 3.0% 7.1% 18.0% 68.5%
Banks in general 11.9% 4.8% 36.7% 5.7% 23.2% 17.7%
n = 1,122
Meanwhile, there is an old belief that if something is stated enough times over and over it becomes
accepted as truth.
This may partly explain Kelly's strategy behind the ad campaign, based on the findings of a measure
taken of respondents to assess how they perceive both St. George and Westpac.
St. George has long positioned itself as a 'customer-centric' bank, yet all Australian banks are public
companies with the first obligation being to shareholders.
However, when respondents were asked whether each bank was customer or profit focused,
interestingly Westpac was deemed much more profit driven than St. George.
And this was reflected among customers and non-customers of both banks.
In fact there was a 33.3% weighting difference between St. George and Westpac, in terms of the
leaning towards being customer or profit focused.
For Further Information Contact
Craig Phillips, CoreData
Mobile: 0413 771 875
Phone: 02 9231 0200
CoreData is the Sydney-based research arm of the market intelligence and consultancy firm,
brandmanagement is a private independently-owned company.
The group provides financial services companies with research and insight. This facilitates firms in
enhancing their strategic positioning, new business development, market research and market
intelligence in Australia, China and the United Kingdom.
Our associates contribute deep specific industry knowledge and primary research, bringing
perspective to current market conditions and future developments.
The group's primary aim in Australia is the formulation of nationwide consumer research with a
specific focus on customer sentiment and individual buyer behavior.
CoreData has sister consumer research firms in Beijing, China - dragondata - and London, England -
The firm also has representatives in Manila, Philippines, New York, USA and Paris, France.
CoreData prides itself by identifying market trends at the earliest opportunity and formulating
research for clients to help them stay ahead of the pack and better meet the day-to-day challenges
to their business.
The CoreData team has a depth of experience that is reflected through having a rich understanding
of the changing environment facing companies in different markets.
We aim to deliver a breadth of market insight that general researchers are unable to capture.
Our extensive operational experience allows us to assist clients in responding to research and the
evolving market environment, quickly and efficiently.
The CoreData team is a complimentary blend of experienced financial services, research, marketing
and media professionals, who together combine their years of industry experience with primary
research to bring perspective to existing market conditions and evolving trends.
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