Why is Citi Selling a Product That Customers Don't Want?

| About: Citigroup Inc. (C)

I keep promising myself I’m going to lay off Citigroup (NYSE:C) once and for all—then the company goes off and makes yet another idiotic decision, and temptation returns. Here we go again.

Have you heard about “myFi”?

Very Internet-sounding, I know. MyFi is short for “My Financial.” It’s supposed to be Citigroup’s new, all-in-one, de-siloed product offering, with everything from checking, to credit cards, to auto loans, to wealth management.

Sounds great, right? Except for one thing: customers don’t want it. If the failure of every attempt to create a financial supermarket over the past 25 years proves anything, it’s that consumers have no interest in one-stop shopping for financial services. So Shearson-AmEx was a bust, Prudential-Bache was a bust, and Sears Dean Witter was a bust. And Citigroup is a bust, too.

But the bankers insist on ignoring what customers really want. Consumers keep saying—in surveys, focus groups, and by voting with their feet—that they have no use for so-called “wrap” and package products, which is exactly what myFi is.

Instead, customers want products that are simple to understand, delivered with great service.

That’s not too hard to comprehend, is it? But Citigroup knows better. Rather than design a product that will actually deliver differentiated value, the company has come up with an offering only a product manager could love, custom-designed to maximize product sales and minimize customer satisfaction.

Citi says it’s currently testing myFi at 20 branches on Long Island. I suspect that the results of the test will be so dismal that any rational analysis would lead to the conclusion that the program should be junked. But Citi won’t be denied. It will find a way to justify rolling out the program nationally.

Soon after that—and I know I’m going out on a limb here—myFi will end up being a total, abject failure. Just like all the other attempts at all-in-one financial services offerings over the past 25 years.