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Case Studies

CIBC – Developing a New Chequing Account

The Challenge

CIBC wanted to re-imagine the chequing account in a way that would allow them to build significant new share growth. The bank wanted to ensure that any new product innovation would be directed at a real consumer need. Previous efforts had not been successful in generating the desired market share.

Our Solution

Spark began by creating a foundation of facts—we gathered the information and insights the bank already had and created hypotheses about why people made certain banking choices. We explored the mindset of Canadians at the time and how needs and attitudes—especially relating to financial matters —varied across demographic cohorts.

Next, we went directly to the front line banking staff—a group of people uniquely positioned to understand both the bank view of retail banking as well as the customer’s perspective. We conducted focus groups with staff right across the country asking for both their own thoughts and what they thought their customers would say. Not only did we get great input from these staff groups, we created much needed goodwill for the product development exercise overall.

Then, we worked with the bank to create some new product concepts. We knew we needed to get into the hearts and minds of consumers across the country, so we developed a hybrid research methodology using both survey style questioning and creative and projective exercises to go beyond the obvious in understanding consumers thoughts and feelings about banks and day-to-day banking products. We got consumers to react to a variety of concepts. The feedback and reactions we received was a powerful force, informing CIBC’s understanding of how restrictive it felt to bank customers to have limits imposed on the number of transactions they could perform. The idea for “Unlimited” was born.

We worked with the bank and its quantitative research partner to scope and size various product configurations, and later with the communications partners to create launch materials—the theme of which flowed directly from early involvement with staff.


The Unlimited account had a highly successful launch in 2004 and delivered a 10% lift in new account openings.