Segmentation as a change agent: How SunTrust used a customer-centric approach to inform brand strategy, improve marketing tactics, and drive organizational transformation.


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SunTrust, a leading financial services firm, was relying on a product and wealth-based view of their customers. While this traditional approach worked in the past, it was leaving them vulnerable to new and increasingly sophisticated competition. Senior management decided the bank had to shift from its traditional product-focused model to a customer-centric model that would address customers and prospects on the basis of their needs and goals.

SunTrust has been on a journey to evolve from a product focused organization to a more client focused organization. Understanding the unique needs of our different clients and helping articulate a clear value proposition for them was just the fuel we needed to drive the kind of transformation we are seeing in our company. CMB and The South Street Strategy Group were vital thought leaders in both guiding the process, but also helping ensure we spread the transformation through the organization.

Jeff VanDeVelde, SVP, Director of Client Experience and Loyalty, SunTrust Bank


The Financial Services practice at CMB and The South Street Strategy Group:

  • Created and prioritized consumer segments based on goals & needs, rather than products, life stage, or assets
  • Developed and led workshops to train executives in consumer-based approaches to create segment-specific value propositions
  • Tested advertising concepts created for each segment
  • Partnered in creating algorithms to identify segment members based on third-party and transactional data


The segmentation formed the foundation for SunTrust’s brand strategy, which both identified and targeted consumer segments. It was also central to a body of work mapping the future of SunTrust’s retail banking (along with priority product and service innovations).

As part of the brand strategy, the segmentation supported defining and designing differentiated client experience within the call center, which helped manage down costs and improve revenue from targeted segments. On a tactical level, algorithms linking the segmentation with third party and bank transactional data helped target DM to the most valuable households with the most effective messages.

About South Street Strategy Group

South Street Strategy Group combines the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop growth and innovation strategies for leading companies across a range of industries. Our fact-based process combines the best in marketing science and strategic analysis to develop highly differentiated, customer-centric strategies for new market segments, new products, and new business units.