In recent years, Goldman Sachs has systematically expanded its consumer-oriented offerings through the Marcus brand while simultaneously forging new partnerships, including a notable one with Apple. While some may view this approach as lacking focus, Stephanie Cohen, the Global Co-Head of Consumer and Wealth Management, explained at the Money 2020 event that this dual-pronged strategy is crucial for the firm’s future growth. She stated, “We are constructing a platform that caters to our Marcus by Goldman Sachs customers, but it will also facilitate access for a broader audience through various ecosystems.”
Many banks have encountered challenges when pursuing a growth strategy centered on becoming a Banking as a Service Provider. One significant risk is the potential self-disintermediation. If not meticulously planned, banks can inadvertently diminish their brand and become mere conduits, limiting their capacity to explore additional revenue opportunities. Initially, Goldman Sachs addressed this concern by introducing a distinct consumer brand named Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
Marcus offers an array of products, including lending, savings, and direct-to-consumer investing. According to Cohen, the company prioritized a customer-centric approach during product development. They engaged directly with consumers to understand their preferences for credit cards and lending products. Where Goldman Sachs could deliver the best experience directly, they did so; however, they also acquired technologies or companies to enhance their offerings where needed. In certain cases, they determined that partnering with a third party, such as Apple, could provide the most superior customer experience. Cohen noted, “When we introduced the Apple Card, many people initially associated it solely with Apple. I view that as a deliberate design choice, not a drawback.”
This strategy is further exemplified by Goldman Sachs’ recent acquisition of Green Sky. This new partnership will enable Goldman Sachs to enter the Buy Now, Pay Later space by leveraging a company with an already established presence in a highly lucrative customer segment. Cohen emphasized that Green Sky had made significant progress in developing its product, making it more practical for Goldman Sachs to acquire rather than build from scratch.
All of these developments culminate in a subtle yet noteworthy change. After conducting extensive customer interviews, Goldman Sachs discovered that their customers exhibited a strong brand affinity with the name ‘Goldman Sachs’ and expressed a desire to feel “closer to the brand.” Consequently, the company will be rebranding Marcus as “Goldman Sachs Marcus” instead of “Marcus by Goldman Sachs.” Only time will reveal whether this change will enable Goldman Sachs to achieve the brand differentiation it aims for.