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MasterCard exec: Experiential, mobile mix draws deep-pocketed consumers

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October 16, 2012

Harrods participates in MasterCard's Priceless London experiential marketing program

NEW YORK – A MasterCard executive at the Luxury Interactive 2012 conference said that the company is positioning itself as an experiential brand for high-earning shoppers through exclusive packages, digital payments and a mobile application sponsorship.

During the “Today’s Affluent Consumer: Capturing Their Attention and Loyalty” presentation, MasterCard’s group head of global merchant marketing said that experiences are the key to reaching the affluent audience. Additionally, more deep-pocketed consumers are becoming mobile enthusiasts and a safe, simple and intuitive digital brand experience is helping to transform MasterCard into a brand of choice for this audience.

“Affluents are clustered around cities, and they love their cities,” said Elizabeth Wolgemuth, group head of global merchant marketing at MasterCard Worldwide. “They also have the ability to travel from one great city to the next great city.

“There needs to be a lot of usage in those home markets in order to think about [your brand] while traveling,” she said. “It is our ability to see and think about that cross-border spending.

“We certainly want to capture the home spend because that is critical, but if you are not one of the top in that market, they will not pull [your brand] out when they travel.”

Money can’t buy
MasterCard has spent the last few years segmenting consumers and shaping a new consumer strategy. At the forefront of these efforts is the affluent consumer’s spending habits.

The state of the economy is changing the way affluent consumers are spending.

Throughout the world, affluents are seeking value, though in some markets they are not spending as rapidly.

“These consumers are demanding equality in that they are getting value in what they are spending,” Ms. Wolgemuth said.

MasterCard is using four principles to tailor its services to the affluent audience: benefits, access to experiences and offers, service on all platforms, and solutions that are safe, simple and smart.

One way that MasterCard is targeting high-earners is by tapping their passions – which include shopping, dining, sports and travel – and providing tailored experiences through its Priceless Cities global marketing platform.

The brand is using the campaign tagline “because experiences matter more than things” as well as providing consumers with real-life images and videos of its customers in its Priceless Cities marketing strategy.

The program was tested in New York last year. Subsequent cities include London and Toronto. MasterCard will add 12 additional cities to this program in 2013.

MasterCard is working with brand partners such as Harrods and Mandarin Oriental to test, refine and roll out these programs, per Ms. Wolgemuth.

Harrods’ Priceless London site 

For example, London-based department store Harrods is participating in the Priceless London initiative to give cardholders access to exclusive packages and perks that leverage its British roots and on-site services.

Harrods is offering spa services, tours, dining packages and a discount under its rewards program as part of Priceless London. The program gives various levels of experiences from before-hours access to the shopping discount.

MasterCard also worked with Harrods to have a global concierge in-store who speaks eight languages to cater to the international audience (see story).

MasterCard’s Priceless London site 

“From the moment of planning, to the moment that it is actually given, to the point after the sale when they can talk about it and share it with their friends, we create an end-to-end experience,” Ms. Wolgemuth said.

“It is not just about the launch,” she said. “It is about keeping it going.

“People need fresh content and experiences.”

More mobile
MasterCard is also tapping affluent consumers’ interest in technology with digital programs that focus on mobile.

“Consumers are enthusiastic about the use of mobile,” Ms. Wolgemuth said. “We are seeing a trend in the affluent mobile customer of them wanting to be tech-savvy and in-the-know.”

Fifty-five percent of affluent consumers have learned about a product in a store, but prefer to purchase it online, she said.

With that, MasterCard created its PayPass digital wallet service that provides speed and convenience at the point-of-sale. Consumers can use the service via mobile, digital and in-store shopping channels.

PayPass stores multiple credit cards and a shipping address. In addition, the brand is looking to highlight security so that consumers feel comfortable using its service.

Furthermore, MasterCard reached out to affluent users of The New Yorker mobile app with a sponsorship that curated city-specific experiences and offered payments via mobile.

Personalities featured in the magazine recommended their favorite places in different categories and MasterCard offers these experiences to users.

The app saw more than 100,000 downloads.

“The New Yorker has a very affluent readership,” Ms. Wolgemuth said. “They are very loyal and trust it as a source.

“This was not just a media plan, but the ability to drive content that went beyond integrating in the app, but providing experiences above and beyond, front-of-the-line access,” she said.

“It is one example of bridging discovery, experience and payment on mobile.”

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York 

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Tricia Carr is an editorial assistant on Luxury Daily. Her beats are apparel and accessories, arts and entertainment, education, food and beverage, fragrance and personal care, government, healthcare, home furnishings, jewelry, legal/privacy and nonprofits. Reach her at tricia@napean.com.

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