Is a credit card for women only still relevant today 30 years after it was launched?
It's about respecting every woman’s individuality, says UOB’s Head of Personal Financial Services, Jacquelyn Tan – and the Lady’s Card wants a third of the market.
“It’s the empowerment of choice,” said Jacquelyn Tan, Head of Personal Financial Services Singapore.
The UOB Lady’s Card turned 30 this year and Singapore’s first dedicated ladies card celebrated the milestone with a revamped rewards structure and new card design by Priscilla Shunmugam, founder and designer of womenswear label Ong Shunmugam.
“We felt that the ability to empower the cardmember to choose and design the benefits that best resonate with them puts the empowerment back in their hands,” said Tan.
The 2019 edition of the UOB Lady’s Card gives its female-only members the freedom to select which two from the following categories of rewards – Travel, Dining, Beauty & Wellness, Family, Fashion, Transport and Entertainment – they would like to earn 10 times the rewards points on, plus the flexibility to switch these around every quarter online as their lifestyles and interests evolve.
According to Tan, it’s the only credit card in Singapore with this feature.
“It’s about respecting every woman’s individuality and how they want to live, work and play. If you can give them that respect and empowerment, then that financial product will resonate with them,” she added.
The UOB Lady’s Card, which debuted in 1989, can reportedly be found in the wallet of one in five Singaporean women.
“This is actually very strong penetration, and as a bank on the whole, we bank one in two Singaporean women, so our longstanding history in understanding the preferences of women puts us in a good position to curate products for women,” Tan explained.
In determining the new rewards structure, the bank gathered insights into the credit card spending priorities and habits of its female customers.
UOB then overlaid this data with Mastercard research, which found that what women want most from their cards are meaningful rewards, and are therefore always looking for ways to earn better benefits with every dollar spent.
“Our product team is constantly looking at data, doing focus groups, and observing trends, and that’s how we keep relevant,” said Tan, who heads UOB’s consumer banking business in Singapore.
With the new rewards structure, UOB expects its Lady’s Card membership to grow to one in three women in Singapore within the next five years.
“It’s about respecting every woman’s individuality and how they want to live, work and play. If you can give them that respect and empowerment, then that financial product will resonate with them.” – Jacquelyn Tan
THE PULL OF PRESTIGE
While Singaporean women may be a savvy bunch, it’s also the face value design of a credit card that may influence their decision to sign up or lure them from one bank to another.
“Aside from the value proposition, what was quite interesting was that we realised that the card face and the material we used for the card actually mattered to some women,” said Tan.
Symbolising the ultimate in prestige with a qualifying annual income of S$120,000, UOB’s limited edition Lady’s Solitaire card, for instance, is fashioned in a cool metal plate.
In 2016, the bank also collaborated with a well-known fashion designer for the first time and released “Singapore’s first and only designer ladies card” as a rose gold metal version of the Solitaire in collaboration with New York-based fashion designer Vivienne Tam.
Several years prior, there was the hugely popular Solitaire version embedded with actual Swarovski crystals.
“The Swarovski card was a talking point for quite a few people. Even for me, my crystallised card was something I kept for a long time and I refused to re-card,” Tan shared candidly.
So powerful is the appeal of eye-catching design that many of UOB’s female customers would find a way to clock up to S$45,000 of credit card spend within three months just to qualify for the Solitaire.
“Our product team is constantly looking at data, doing focus groups, and observing trends, and that’s how we keep relevant.” – Jacquelyn Tan
AGE IS BUT A NUMBER, NO?
The 30th anniversary edition is a homecoming of sorts for the design of the Lady’s Card, with the new batik take on its iconic rose motif conceived by homegrown designer Priscilla Shunmugam.
The Peranakan influence of the new design was inspired by three key characteristics the bank believes define Southeast Asian women of today: Identity, being borderless and femininity.
“We chose to work with Priscilla because of her position on the world fashion stage and her distinct personality, individuality and sense of style. And also because of what she stands for and how it resonates with Asian cultural values,” Tan explained.
Then, there’s the compelling story of the designer’s personal journey with the Lady’s Card. Growing up, she remembers her mum having one and when Shunmugam herself grew up and qualified for a credit card, the Lady’s Card was the first one she applied for.
“She shared how when she first started work, this was the card she wanted. And it was the first credit card in her wallet so it was something that was personal and close to her,” Tan said.
It’s a familiar story that carries emotional resonance with many Lady’s Card members who also share similar milestone moments with the card, Tan believes.