Affluent Consumers Grow More Purposeful

A decade after MasterCard admitted in its marketing campaign that there are some things money can't buy, the financial company is still cashing in on that...

A decade after MasterCard admitted in its marketing campaign that there are some things money can’t buy, the financial company is still cashing in on that sentiment.

This story first appeared in the September 27, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“As people looked from the outside and more toward the inside,” the company repositioned itself with an advertising campaign to reflect that, one still going strong, according to Chris Jogis, vice president of U.S. brand marketing, MasterCard Worldwide. And affluent consumers’ interest in being purposeful, resourceful and generous has only increased in the past 10 years, according to the Yankelovich Monitor, he said. In a 2006 survey, 67 percent of respondents cited striking a balance between work and personal life as important, compared with 57 percent in a 2002 survey.

Consumers are seeking authenticity and are less interested in fitting in. In addition, many think it is important that others see them as someone who could see through all the hype, he said. More than ever, there is an openness to new ideas and often the hunt is the payoff, said Jogis, drawing from the survey results. “People want to be viewed as smart but beating to their own drummer…,” he said.

A few statistics were taken with a grain of salt, like the 53 percent of survey respondents who consider themselves to have an excellent imagination — “To me, that’s like everyone is great driver,” he said.

But as society longs for authenticity and excitement, every economic level is being redefined. “It’s more about the tales and what you can say about it,” Jogis said.

Instead of bragging about staying at the most expensive hotel in Paris, travelers are more inclined to be drawn to the most unusual one that others would not know about — where a chef invites them to watch him prepare a once-in-a-lifetime meal.

To that end, MasterCard is offering behind-the-scenes access to select customers at next month’s Swarovski Fashion Rocks concert. In an unrelated effort, the company cobranded a credit card with Saks Fifth Avenue and ran print ads promoting it. In addition, stylist Robert Verdi worked with Saks and MasterCard to celebrate the new Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard issued by HSBC, and hosted a party at the Priceless Experience Lounge at the Saks “Want It!” launch party. By talking to people about fashion, Verdi helped to create a buzz about the card, Jogis said.

Whatever the venture, understanding the targeted consumer is essential, as well as developing meaningful programs and content. “You have to deliver value to all constituents,” Jogis said.