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Raja Rajamannar on MasterCard’s journey to ‘priceless’ experiences

The connected consumer matters for MasterCard. After all, any conventional definition of the different kinds of audiences changes, when they become active in an always-on world. And for MasterCard, this meant revisiting the strategy in which it spoke to its audiences. Raja Rajamannar, Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer, MasterCard explains this as the journey to creating priceless experiences from MasterCard’s initial play of celebrating priceless moments.

Technology changed everything
To understand MasterCard’s marketing evolution, it was important to understand the world of the connected consumer, according to Mr Rajamannar. He said, “Factors such as Moore’s Law, growth of computing power and nanotechnology has transformed the way in which people are connecting with devices and with each other. From once the thought that the 60 yrs plus generation was slow in adopting to technology, today we are seeing that set of audiences embracing tablets, communicating through Skype and WhatsApp. The younger generation is not only second-screening while consuming media but the smartphone has essentially become a natural extension of their body. The connected consumer is truly always-on, and as a brand, that meant something for us.”

MasterCard looked at crafting an ecosystem where the brand could thrive in these changing dynamics. The company embarked on a new journey two years ago, where it upped its focus on the consumer, and in understanding consumer behaviour in the context of consumption. “In the past, the brand positioning was the best way to celebrate moments. One key finding for us at the time, which is now obvious in retrospective, was that experience matters. We wanted to transform MasterCard from a payment brand to a lifestyle brand,” Mr Rajamannar observed.

On the path of enabling experiences
MasterCard’s path of moving on from celebrating priceless moments to creating and enabling priceless experiences, also meant connecting people with newer, or as Mr Rajamannar puts it, priceless opportunities. A confluence of functions needed to come in play to achieve that. With marketing at the centre, MasterCard put technology, products, innovation and communication in the mix to build platforms that translate the brand into personal experiences.

MasterCard chose four platforms to associate itself with at the end of the exercise that included Surprises, Cities, Causes and Specials. “If something did not fit in this, we ruthlessly cut it out,” informed Mr Rajamannar implying the streamlining of talking points and marketing activities that MasterCard wanted to engage in.

The old marketing advice of ‘delighting and surprising’ consumers became relevant for MasterCard. Citing the example of some of the experiences co-created with the likes of Justin Timberlake, MasterCard created quarter million surprises in the last 15 months around 112 countries. “Essentially, we were creating a surprise every day, and that comes with a massive creative and executional challenge. We worked with many new ideas to achieve this. Our new strategy has helped us in not only building a brand but in driving business growth,” Mr Rajamannar summed up.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.
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