Moving beyond the payments sector and into consumer experience has been the secret to Mastercard’s ‘Priceless Cities’ campaign, according to Deborah Goldingham, the brand’s head of marketing for Southeast Asia.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Goldingham explained that following the brand’s refreshed positioning launched last year, the marketing strategy has been to make Mastercard more than just a payments brand, and in fact to actually showcase it as a brand for consumers.
“The refresh has reinvigorated us in an area where our brand has a really significant role to play,” she said.
Priceless Cities allows Mastercard users to book exclusive, luxury experiences when they travel, that Goldingham said are contextual and relevant. The programme includes three Asian destinations: Singapore, Bangkok and Bali.
The platform was borne out of Mastercard’s deep data pool on how consumers were using the brand when they travelled, she said, which was then built out with a number of technology and media partners.
“When people travel, they follow passions, and they travel to cities, not countries," she said. "So we mapped out key cities around the world, and saw travel trends around certain corridors that just weren’t recognised before.”
An example is huge growth in Chinese tourists visiting Bali. Goldingham said Mastercard’s data shows that these visitors “want to create their own special experiences, create their own stories and share them”.
“So what we’re doing is enabling them to create their own priceless experiences,” she explained. “We’re making sure we’re serving you content from the programme at a relevant time."
The key has been leveraging Mastercard’s extensive network of partners and bringing them together to create bespoke experiences for affluent travellers, which can be served through Mastercard’s platform. As a ubiquitous payments brand, its reach across different sectors, from air travel to hotels to restaurants and so on, is significant.
“No one else is bringing partners together in this way,” Goldingham claimed.
She added, however, that Mastercard is not making a sea change and becoming a tourism brand. Rather, it has diversified its offering, without losing sight of its core identity.
“We’ve got to stay true to our brand, and it’s a payments brand. We’ve got to carve out these experiences but retain the role of Mastercard,” she said. “We’re not a butler service, we’re the facilitator and the payment brand. So long as we can facilitate and be the payment brand of preference, we’ve done our job.”