EXCLUSIVE: Mastercard’s global CMO on how to treat a consumer like a king

July 1, 2018 4:48 pm

Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard, speaks to AMEInfo about the future of marketing, and much more.

Would you recommend digital marketing as a secure channel for brand communication?

Brand safety is a critical issue in the realm of digital space, but it doesn’t mean it should stop anyone from taking advantage of the existing digital channels and even exploring the new ones.

It’s like you saying you don’t want to go on the road because there are risks of road accidents. All that brands need to do is to take the driver’s seat, buckle up and stay alert at all times.

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The channel of communication is important, but it should not always and necessarily be the first priority for a brand.

This is because, at the end of the day, consumers are important stakeholders and the channel is just a way to reach out to them.

At Mastercard, the key points we keep in mind are — how to wow consumers and connect with them — while also reinforcing their preferences in line with our brand proposition.

What are the marketing strategies of Mastercard?

All our product development starts with consumer insights at its core. There are some universal truths, and there are some subtle truths. These subtle truths will be highly culture dependent.

Another factor that we keep in mind is aligning our marketing strategy with market-specific needs, for example, connecting with the right consumers at the right time and place.

Above all of this is our absolute commitment to understanding consumers better and the experiences they value.

Now, different people can have different preferences, so we have categorized our consumers’ common interests, or what we refer to as – passion points – into nine different categories, namely, shopping, sports, entertainment, culinary experiences, travel, philanthropy, music, arts and culture, and environment.

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This simple but powerful architecture enables us to design our marketing strategies based on what passion points dominate the lives of our consumers in any given region.

Can you tell us about how digital has played a role over in Mastercard over the last few years?

Digital transformation is no longer a trend; it’s a way of life. Thanks to this revolution, more has changed in the last five years than the preceding 20 years.

This transformation has also had a profound impact on consumer behavior, giving birth to, what we today describe as, the ‘expectation economy.’ Previously, brands said that the consumer is king; today the consumer knows this and expects to be treated accordingly – this is the expectation economy.

As a result, digital marketing, which was born as a new discipline, has become foundational for any successful strategy.

New social and digital channels and apps continue to emerge, and new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and chatbots, together with data-driven insights, are steering innovation and offer an unprecedented view into the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns.

At Mastercard, we believe that if there is an opportunity out there that a new digital technology can provide, we need to stay on top of it.

What’s your vision for the Arabian Gulf region?

The region, undoubtedly, has tremendous potential. The UAE, especially, is currently leading the region’s innovation drive and that includes the payments ecosystem as well.

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Building on our long-standing presence in the market, we would like to continue playing a significant part in shaping the local payments landscape, while also setting new standards in the safety and security domain.

From a brand perspective, we want to provide the right product and the right experience. Our mission is to have all people — of diverse social-economic statures — to have access to, what we call, priceless possibilities.

In the region, we are already working on many financial inclusion projects in Africa, and we are proud of the impact our technologies are making in the lives of underserved communities.

We are also in a partnership with UN’s World Food Programme in the region. In a nutshell, and guided by our overarching philosophy that businesses can be a force for good, we are dedicated to combining social marketing with business, as that, we believe, is the future of marketing.

Sunil Kumar Singh
By Sunil Kumar Singh
Sunil is a digital-savvy journalist and a leader in managing and integrating print & digital content in UAE, the Gulf and India. Sunil is an innovative editor with over 14 years' experience in digital content marketing, leading team and ability to deliver quality content for both print and new media.