Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ marketing strategy

By highlighting India’s cultural heritage and inviting the world to explore it, Mastercard aims to contribute to the growth of tourism in India

With the invaluable support of Invest India and the Ministry of Tourism, Mastercard is all set to redefine experiential travel in India, offering a captivating blend of cultural, gastronomic and wellness experiences in cities like Delhi, Agra, Jodhpur, Dehradun and Pune. Through this visionary initiative, both Indian and international travellers will have the opportunity to explore their passion while immersing themselves in the unparalleled beauty of India. 

In an interview with BW HOTELIER, Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare, Mastercard, delves into the exciting world of travel and tourism as it unveils its groundbreaking initiative, ‘Priceless India’. Excerpts:

Can you elaborate on how ‘Priceless’ is at the heart of Mastercard's overall strategy, especially in the context of differentiating the brand through emotional benefits than pure functionality?

‘Priceless’ is at the core of Mastercard’s marketing strategy. It goes beyond pure functionality, focussing on emotional benefits. Over the years, the platform has evolved from storytelling to curating experiences ‘money can’t buy social good initiatives.' Now, it extends to ‘priceless platforms’ like ‘Where To Settle’, helping people find suitable places to live based on various factors. From priceless moments to priceless movements, we have started bringing in a lot of social good into what we do. Whether it is to contribute to fighting cancer or finding drugs for the cure of cancer. This evolution reflects Mastercard’s commitment to authenticity, transparency and sincerity in its approach. In essence, ‘Priceless’ is the heart of Mastercard’s marketing strategy, shaping its signature approach to engagement and value creation.

Why did Mastercard decide to showcase India’s rich cultural and heritage assets on global stage and how does this benefit both, the country and Mastercard's business objectives?

Mastercard’s decision to showcase India’s rich cultural and heritage assets on the global stage is driven by a multifaceted motivation. First and foremost, it recognises the incredible potential for inbound tourism that India possesses. If India’s assets are not marketed effectively outside the country, this potential remains largely untapped. Moreover, the country boasts of a unique and extensive array of experiences, monuments, cultural treasures, health and wellness offerings and culinary experiences. Compared to many places around the world, India's depth and diversity are unparalleled. This makes it an ideal candidate for global exposure.

The decision to showcase India’s cultural richness on a global stage was considered beneficial, both for the country and for Mastercard’s business objectives. By highlighting the country’s cultural heritage and inviting the world to explore it, Mastercard aims to contribute to the growth of tourism in India. This, in turn, benefits its economy and reputation. Additionally, in some countries, there is limited awareness about India’s cultural wealth. For example, in these countries, a 100-year-old monument might be considered significant, but in India, there are monuments dating back to a thousand years or more. This disconnect highlights an opportunity to increase India’s visibility on international stage.

Mastercard’s involvement in promoting India’s cultural assets is driven by a desire to not only serve its own business interests but to showcase its beauty and richness to the world. This aligns with our efforts to provide curated experiences for our customers. By investing in the quality of fulfilment and the seamless execution of experiences, we seek to make these cultural journeys accessible and enjoyable for travellers.

Please elaborate on the various domains or areas of focus that Mastercard is currently involved in and provide some examples of its initiatives within these domains.

We have identified 10 passion points that are central to our focus. The first one, travel, is a significant area for us. We want to enhance the travel experience for our customers. It’s about making travel a seamless and enjoyable experience. Second, we are deeply invested in sports. One of our strategies is sponsorship, and we have a strong presence in cricket. We have a clear strategy when it comes to sports. Thirdly, music, especially live concerts, is a passion for many. We aim to connect with this passion. Music has a unique way of touching people’s hearts. Four, we believe in the power of movies as a form of escapism. Movies are a vicarious experience, and we’re exploring ways to be a part of this space. We’ve sponsored various film festivals like Cannes, Venice and Berlin. On number five are arts and culture which hold immense significance. We’re looking at systematisation in our approach and are partnering with film stars and studios to make an impact in this arena. This is followed by shopping, especially for international travellers. We negotiate special deals for travellers such as ones from China coming to Manhattan. This is because marketing is a part of our commitment. We’re dedicated to making a difference through philanthropy. We are also actively involved in initiatives that promote environmental sustainability. Not to mention, health and education. We aim to make health-related transactions smoother and more secure. Also, we’re taking a keen interest in supporting educational initiatives in many countries.

To sum it up, these 10 passion points guide our efforts at Mastercard. Our goal is to enrich our customers’ experiences in each of these areas, making their interactions with us more meaningful and rewarding.

Provide some insight into exceptional experiences Mastercard aims to provide by featuring India on the ‘Priceless’ platform.

Mastercard intends to provide unique and exclusive encounters for travellers at India’s UNESCO heritage sites where you get a very exclusive exotic experience such as visits to historic places like the Ananda Ashram which promise distinctive and special encounters. We are looking at some monuments where you can go and have many exclusive experiences with art. Some of the top chef, with whom we are partnering with, will be curating different experiences. We intend to showcase art-centric experiences at monuments by partnering with celebrities famous for their unique art and art forms.

How does Mastercard plan to collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism through the ‘Priceless India’ programme, and what specific outcomes or impact does it hope to achieve to boost India's tourism sector?

We aim to complement the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts in promoting tourism in India through initiatives like the Incredible India campaign. We recognise the emotional resonance and global reach of this campaign and are eager to support it in every way possible. The Indian Government’s strong commitment to inbound tourism is a significant factor in our collaboration. Mastercard has successfully partnered with countries like Mexico and Singapore in similar endeavours, and we have seen positive results. India stands out in terms of the diverse and enriching experiences it offers travellers, and it is often more affordable than other destinations.  

We refer to this as the ‘Priceless’ experience, as it is both accessible and exceptional. Our primary goal is to assist the Ministry of Tourism in driving incremental tourism traffic, a goal we have achieved in various countries globally. We will work closely to quantify and measure the impact of our collaboration, as we have done elsewhere. This collaboration promises to be an exciting journey, and we hope to make a meaningful contribution to India's inbound tourism sector. Airports are vital gateways for tourism, and we see significant opportunities in this area. 

Has Mastercard achieved any significant milestones through its approach of ‘creating value for individuals and communities’, similar to the impact it is hoping from ‘Priceless’ in India?

‘Where To Settle’ is an app by Mastercard that has been designed to assist individuals in making informed decisions about where to settle by considering various factors. The platform prompts you to provide details such as the size of your family, the age of your school-going children, your background, and career aspirations, including whether you want to start a business or work for someone else. The platform then analyses this information and provides you a list of 20 suitable places to settle. It doesn’t stop there. ‘Where To Settle’ goes further by informing you about job opportunities matching your qualifications, available rental properties, cost of living, nearby schools, potential for savings, and even job applications in relevant industries.

The impact of this platform has been significant, particularly in Poland. The government of Poland recognised its potential and embraced it as their own, actively promoting it. As a result, ‘Where To Settle’ has helped over 170,000 families successfully relocate, making a substantial difference in those areas and contributing significantly to the well-being of these families. This reflects Mastercard’s commitment to continuously evolving and providing valuable solutions to diverse communities.

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