Customer information and relationship management skills will separate winners from losers in the hotly contested U.K. credit card market, said Mercer Management Consulting principal Nick Hall.

U.S. invaders with aggressive marketing and pricing strategies-including MBNA Corp., Capital One Financial Corp., and People's Bank of Connecticut- have captured no more than 10% of the U.K. market in four years, Mr. Hall said.

They have run up against incumbents-the major U.K. credit card banks- that can exploit their knowledge of their own customers.

But the market is still up for grabs, and "to be successful will require a new approach," said Mr. Hall, who is based in London. "Traditional mass- market tactics just won't work."

Just as in the United States, understanding risks, customer behavior and preferences, and profitability will be keys.

"Nontraditional financial services firms have begun to build knowledge of their customers' financial needs and are broadening their relationships from groceries and clothing into banking, investments, and insurance," he said. "At the heart of all winning strategies lies a common set of information-based capabilities."

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