Mastercard focus on creating acceptance for digital payments across the country, Manasi Narasimhan

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Manasi Narasimhan, Mastercard India VP of Communications and Marketing, in conversation with Social Samosa, discussing the company's most recent social media campaign, the viability of digital marketing for driving leads and much more.

An organization with decades in the rearview mirror, Mastercard is also one of the most respected financial corporations worldwide to be operating in the Indian market. Owing to the increased digital push by the Government of India, Mastercard is strengthening their focus in India with their latest campaign, Khul Gayi Life, which is currently underway.

Manasi Narsimhan talks about Mastercard's social media strategy, their decision to rope in Irrfan Khan as the brand ambassador and many other insightful details through this detailed tete-a-tete with Social Samosa.

• What is the objective of the ‘KhulGayiLife’ campaign?

‘KhulGayiLife’ is our latest marketing campaign which is aimed at accelerating digital payments acceptance amongst consumers and merchants who primarily use cash.Through this, we aim to reach out to consumers across the country over the next few months.

Mastercard has always been at the forefront of spreading awareness about the benefits of cashless payments in India. With this latest initiative, the company further extends its support to the Government’s efforts of establishing a digitally empowered society.

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• Which has been your most successful campaign so far? What do you think clicked?

For the past few years, Mastercard’s focus has been on creating acceptance for digital payments across the country. The multi-platform campaign “Cashless Bano India” with NDTV was launched in mid-2017 to create digital awareness and educate the masses about digital payment solutions for day-to-day transactions.

The campaign also reached out to people from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities including several merchants and traders, through its on-ground education sessions with the support of CAIT.

Recently, we successfully concluded the ‘Digital Rath’ campaign in partnership with Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). This campaign was also aimed at supporting the government’s agenda towards creating a cashless economy.

The campaign was rolled out across Delhi, Lucknow, Gwalior, Jhansi, Kanpur, Kolkata, Puducherry, Nagpur, Bhopal, Pune, and Navi Mumbai to build awarenessas well as driveprevalence and acceptance of digital payments among approximately 10 lakh merchants.

We realise that for a shift in consumer behaviour from cash to digital payments to be sustained and successful, all parties involved need to be educated and incentivised – consumers, merchants, banks and the government. Going ahead, we will look to address the entire ecosystem in all the campaigns we do.

• What is the idea behind choosing Irrfan Khan as the brand ambassador? How has the move helped in creating a brand connect and recall for your consumers?

Irrfan Khan is one of the most prominent Bollywood personalities, who has an excellent pull amongst the masses. The actor’s versatility and popularity in metros as well as in Tier 2, Tier 3cities will help us spread our agenda to a larger audience.

• What is the kind of competition in your category and how do you plan to tackle it with your communication?

Given that payments are ubiquitous and span every aspect of a consumer’s life, we look at our competition as essentially cash. We aim to showcase the various situations where digital payments can be used. We also aim to educate consumers about the safety and wide acceptance of digital payments.

We believe that consistent communication will slowly drive a behaviour shift towards using digital payments.

• As a BFSI brand, which social media platform has managed to yield the maximum results?

Mastercard uses an integrated approach that leverages all digital platforms as well as non-digital platforms to deliver one consistent message. This is done using a combination of content themes and formats, each best suited for their respective platform.

We use Twitter to build thought leadership around our brand and Facebook to engage consumers. We are constantly looking at other ways to reach out and engage with our consumers around their moments of truth as they consider a purchase.

• What are your parameters of measuring success on your digital marketing activities?

We believe our various digital marketing activities have diverse objectives. These could range from communicating our narrative and influencing opinion amongst key stakeholders to engaging audiences around our content, to driving specific information as they proceed down their purchase journey to driving leads in partnerships with some of our managed merchants.

• Is digital marketing a viable option for driving leads?

Yes, depending on the category of consumer we are talking to and the category of purchase. It is a fact that digital and social media are great influencers of purchase behaviour, especially in high-involvement categories. This combined with the increasing focus on e-commerce makes it possible to drive leads and importantly measure the efficacy of our marketing spends.

Mastercard is leveraging relevant data in real-time to get consumer insights for marketing purposes and growth of the , business. Insights we get from social listening to identify consumer trends and provide real-time and attractive offers based on it.

• How often do you work with influencers? How has the experience been?

Influencers work well to communicate our thought leadership narrative because they add their credibility and expertise to an already powerful message from Mastercard.Influencers are more connected than ever to their digital devices and to each other; they are moving faster than ever across multiple devices and multiple channels, and their attention span is only becoming shorter and shorter.

So at Mastercard, through our sponsorships, thought leadership and knowledge assets, we are creating a stronger connect with our influencers.

• On what kind of KPIs do you work with influencers?

Influencers are meant to drive credibility and reach to our narrative amongst a very stringently defined target audience. Our KPIs will reflect the same.

• How interested is Mastercard as a brand in performance marketing? If yes, how has it worked for the brand so far?

Since Mastercard is very focused on driving transactions to merchants (and a great many of the large merchants are online / e-commerce players) performance marketing is important. In fact, to broaden the traditional definition of performance marketing, we measure the impact on transactions of all the media that we use.

Digital with its focused approach only makes it easier. However, given that we are heavy on mass media to target tier 2 and tier 3 India, we try to correlate media with performance across the spectrum.

• Please take us through your social media strategy for 2018

While I cannot comment on specifics, we keep a close watch on the rapidly evolving social media ecosystem to look at which platforms best serve our needs. We then work with publishers and our agency partners to see how best to maximize the benefit and features that a platform can offer us.

• As a marketer, what is your objective from digital?

As a marketer, I don’t look at digital as having a different objective from the rest of our marketing mix. Any brand would work to improve its attributes, imagery and awareness amongst its target audience and at the same time look to drive business (revenue).

We are no different. Digital does offer the benefit of more specific targeting and measurability. However, the media mix and marketing mix needs to be tailored keeping the target audience in mind. Digital or non-digital, the goals and the endeavours to measure remains the same.

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