Context: Royal Bank of Scotland closed 259 branches across



Royal Bank of
Scotland have announced a closure of 259 branches which include 62 RBS and 197
NatWest braches. This will result in 700 jobs being lost, for a bank which is
71% owned by the taxpayer (BBC News, 2017).

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A change in
consumer behaviour is one of the main points that caused RBS to close branches.
Traditionally, it was a norm for everyone to go to the bank for all their
banking needs; appointments etc. (Treanor, 2017). Now, online banking has been
on the rise, despite being available for years. Since 2014, there has been a
40% decline in RBS & NatWest branch usage and a 73% increase in mobile
transactions (, 2017).


RBS alone, but is
seen across the industry. In the last 5 years Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and
Santander have closed 2,200+ branches. Along with RBS, Lloyds are closing 49
and Yorkshire banks closing 19 branches (BBC News, 2017). This shows a flaw in the
banks business models itself as it clearly shows they are failing to adapt with
a developing environment, being stuck in old times or having operational issues,
all are threats on the business model itself. Also, there can be other factors
that could have some effect on
the bank, contributing to research question. These closures could
potentially be an opportunity for RBS rather than a threat as it opens up a new
avenue where they can explore and develop to an enlarging market, as the high
street prospects are failing due to the online orientation.


Research Question:


Why has Royal Bank of Scotland closed 259
branches across the UK


This is interesting topic to investigate as a researcher due
to: major media attention, scale of the bank and the negative externalities it causes
from 700 job losses, along with complex factors causing this issue. Influenced
mainly by: changes in consumer buying behaviour and issues with RBS’s business
model. Both contributing to closures of 259 branches. Hence the reasons why the
researcher can look into this matter using both quantitative and qualitative


Research Objectives:


examine how changes in consumer buying
behaviour contributed to RBS’s 259 branch closures across the UK.


To understand if RBS’s business model contributed
to the closure of 259 branches across the UK.


From the
research question, key points such as changes in consumer buying behaviour and the
banks business model have been highlighted as the factors that have caused
RBS’s closures (Treanor, 2017). Using these two research objectives, the
researcher can effectively focus on these objectives which allows them to stay
on target and can make a justified decision choosing types data to collect and
methods of doing so, from what the conclusions can be based upon.


Literature Review:

Consumer buying
behaviour, changes
in consumer behaviour is one of the key areas which has been highlighted, that
contributes to RBS closing 259 stores across the UK (BBC News, 2017). Consumer
behaviour is described as a study of the processes involved when individuals or
groups select, purchase, use or dispose of products, services or experiences to
satisfy needs and desires (Solomon, 2006, pg.2). Things like: cultural,
social, psychological and personal factors all have an influence on the
consumers decision (Masterson and Pickton, 2014). Within
this model there are 5 approaches to explain decisions made by a consumer,
these are: Economic man, Psychodynamic, behaviourist, cognitive and humanistic
(Foxall 1990). These further develop the influences stated above, a combination
of them can fall into one variable at a time so there can be more than one
influence / cause to explain the matter.  

Using the models’ different
variables, the researcher can appropriately identify and focus on the research
objective. From this, relevant data collection plans can be created from which
the correct audience can be targeted to research.

Business Model, is one of the main points that has
contributed to RBS’s branch closures. It is described as a plan for successful
business operation, identifying sources of revenue, customer base, products and
details of financing (Drucker, 1994). More relevant for recent times the model
should include facts such as how the firm will convert inputs (capital, raw
materials and labour) into outputs (total value of goods produced) and make a
return that is greater than the opportunity cost of capital and delivers a
return to its investors (Amit and Zott, 2001).

Using this model and the
definitions, it is the most appropriate model to use as it links with the research
question (BBC News, 2017). The researcher can examine the bank and so can
develop a more detailed focus on the research objective itself from which an
appropriate data collection method can be selected with this type of research.










  Methodology is the systematic analysis of the
methods applied to a topic of study (Saunders et al, 2013, pg115). The research
philosophy Interpretivism will be applied and described as Interpretivism
emphasises that humans are different from physical phenomena as they create
meanings (Saunders et al, 2016, pg140). This is chosen as it creates new,
richer understandings of contexts that can be further analysed (Saunders et al,
2016, pg140). To analyse the research question, a deductive method is chosen as
it links to the data collection strategy. Is defined as when a research theory develops
from reading academic sources, then an appropriate research strategy is made to
test the theory (Curwin et al, 2013, pg115).


  A mixed methodology
method has been chosen as it links with method of research, it incorporates
both quantitative and qualitative approaches (Creswell et al, 2003). This would
allow the researcher to gain a larger data pool, from which a deeper analysis
can occur. Quantitative research produces numeric or statistical data which
show patterns & Qualitative research produces thoughts, opinions or descriptions
which shows meanings to a researcher (Bryman, 2015, pg:159). 


  For primary research a survey will be
conducted by the researcher which gains

  qualitative data. Which is defined as an activity where a researcher asks questions to
respondents (Lavrakas, 2008). The sample will be 30 randomly selected
participants to avoid bias,15 males/15 females aged 18+. This survey will take
place in town where the ideal audience will be present for most valid results
and will be asked “Do you bank online or in branch with RBS?” this data can
help understand the consumers perspective and what led to RBS to close
branches. For secondary research, online resources such as RBS Strategic &
investor reports will be used (,
2016). These will allow researcher to explore the banks businesses model and
other relevant quantitative data/information around research objectives.


  Ethical issues are handled as all participants
will be asked for consent

  and data will be kept secure for
confidentiality. To stay on target a Gantt chart will be

  followed (See appendix 1).