He does not believe that change should always involve getting rid of everything old-especially those concepts that have worked for a brand.
That is why when Raja Rajamannar took charge, as the Chief Marketing Officer he was deeply conscious about the "Priceless" heritage of MasterCard branding that was initiated around 17 years ago.
Given that he has global responsibility for all of MasterCard's advertising, sponsorships, promotions, research, insights, and digital and consumer marketing initiatives, this decision was enormous. "I was cautious about not falling prey to 'new bright syndrome' when I joined here in September 2013. This is even as I knew that we had to take the existing 'Priceless' campaign forward to sync with the time," he said.
He was recently in India and spoke to Shamni Pande of Business Today about some of the emerging trends and what is MasterCard doing to keep pace of the frenetic changes around consumers.
Q. Can you share some insights into recent Indian consumer shopping habits?
A. MasterCard surveyed 500 respondents in India aged 18-64 years old as part of its recent MasterCard Online Shopping Survey 2014. The survey was conducted between October - December 2014, and targeted consumers who access the internet at least once a week. The demographic group is representative in terms of age and gender of the online population in India. It showed that top markets (in the Asia-Pacific region) for overall conversations around mobile payments were India, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and China.
More consumers are shopping online: around 17 per cent of respondents said online shopping is their primary reason for going online. The most active group is between 25 and 44 years old. Interestingly enough, the top three consideration factors for online shopping in India are the security of payment facility (86.8 per cent), price/value of items (86.6 per cent) and convenient payment methods (86.2 per cent).
The top factors driving smartphone shopping in India are the ability to shop on the go (47.7 per cent), the growing availability of apps that makes it easier to shop (45.3 per cent) and convenience (38.1 per cent). In terms of share of online spend (vs. offline), the top categories for online purchases are home appliances/electronic products (36.4 per cent), clothing/accessories (32.5 per cent) and travel (28.4 per cent). And here, airlines enjoy the highest level of spend ($97), followed by home appliances/electronic products ($75) and travel ($61).
Q. How is MasterCard evolving given that there is so much happening around mobile payments?
A. MasterCard is working to ensure we deliver safe, simple, intuitive platforms and solutions that enable our partners to provide enhanced consumer experiences. Using the MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES), we are working with Apple, Samsung and other partners to create compelling, secure new shopping experiences. These solutions embody the digital transformation taking place around the world and reinforce MasterCard's commitment to deliver secure, digital payments. Together, with our partners, we're moving important products and solutions like EMV and mobile payments out of neutral and driving them forward at full speed. With MasterPass, which will soon be launched in India, we will deploy MDES to ensure that every device will be a commerce device, enabling banks to offer secure payments for all of their customers, across all devices and channels.
Q. What are some of MasterCard's innovations to address technology challenges in the payments space?
A. We believe the future of payments is no longer just about how the consumer will pay (although this is still important), but about creating a more engaging experience before, during and after the payment transaction. As discussed, this means we have to think differently, design products differently, and innovate faster than before.
MasterCard announced the establishment of its India Tech Hub in February. Comprising two facilities - one in Pune and the other in Vadodara - the India Tech Hub will play a key role in developing services across the full spectrum of the processing value chain for India and emerging markets, as well as mobile payment solutions for our customers. MasterPass is an example of a solution that was largely developed in India, and has since been rolled out in 14 markets to date; we will be launching this service in India very soon.
As a leader in the global payments industry, MasterCard is using innovations in payments such as prepaid and mobile to break down barriers to access and make everyday commerce activities easier, more secure and more efficient. For example, MasterCard has an existing partnership with HomeSend, a US-based money transfer company, to offer a similar kind of product globally. We are planning to use HomeSend network to offer remittance services in India
In order to protect customers, MasterCard has created an additional layer of security to the digital payment process through the MasterCard Digital Enablement System (MDES) or tokenisation, a technology that is ushering a new era in digital payments.
Q. How are you leveraging the mobile trend for brand engagement?
A. The soon-to-be launched Priceless Surprises app and Mobile Software Developer Kit (SDK), is the first step in bringing Priceless Surprises to mobile, and lets advertisers reach MasterCard's consumers through smartphone push notifications.
Through a mobile delivery platform, the app will communicate with cardholders about Surprises events and opportunities along with relevant in-app activities that are representative of real-world, real-time Priceless moments.
The app also comes with a software development kit which enables MasterCard's partners to develop and deliver moment-based rewards, and also has capability to connect partners with MasterCard's own consumer following. A key differentiator is that MasterCard will be able to reward its consumers for their existing behaviors in real time, rather than consumers doing an activity to get a reward. For example, an airline could offer a free lounge pass to someone who checked a delayed flight status.
Through one surprise at a time, we aim to deliver Priceless Surprises at scale in a contextually relevant and real-time manner. We've pushed a lot of boundaries to date, but it's the insights and mobile technologies available today that will get us closer to our goal of enabling delightful experiences for MasterCard cardholders.