Mastercard’s CMO Believes Marketers Are Too Focused on the Latest Tech Gadget, Need to Get Back to Basics

'Understanding human emotion is not the same as data and analytics'

MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar believes marketers need to focus on the consumers. Getty Images
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

If there’s a new technology that can help Mastercard connect with consumers, the company’s CMO Raja Rajamannar will probably try it. But that doesn’t mean he’s laser-focused on the latest tech gizmos—he’s just looking for ways to connect with consumers and put them first.

“A lot of Advertising Week is focused on technology, media, artificial intelligence—all of these are enablers,” said Rajamannar in an interview with Adweek before he took the Advertising Week stage on Tuesday. “For me, the focus has to be a little bit different. It is the consumer. These are all enablers. That’s good. Technology is good. But understanding human emotion is not the same as data and analytics.”

Rajamannar continued: “Look at these as enablers but don’t get obsessed with only those. You cannot be ignorant otherwise you’ll be left behind but your focus has to be on your consumers. Go back to basics, folks. Don’t just get carried away by the gizmos, and the toys and the trinkets, the shiny things. It’s a trap. People are people. We are human beings, first and foremost. We have to understand their passions, understand their emotions, understand what makes them tick, understand their pain points, their annoyances, understand them as people not as consumers. That’s what you have to focus on. How many presentations at Advertising Week are focused on the human truth?” 

Still, Rajamannar did emphasize two ways that Mastercard is incorporating the latest tech into its consumer-focused marketing. The brand is working with Swarovski on a virtual reality ecommerce experience where consumers can look at chandeliers via a headset and once they like the item purchase it within that experience. Here’s how it works: Consumers focus on the item, focus on Mastercard’s Masterpass and then the purchase is complete.

“We’ve found that the consumer experience is so seamless and that we’re giving the merchant the opportunity to close the sale in that moment of excitement, that moment of truth,” said Rajamannar.

The company is also working with Marie Claire on a new retail experience that features a smart mirror that will suggest items and complete consumers’ purchases without the hassle of having to leave their dressing room.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.