Visa Is Doubling Down on Multi-Sensory Purchases at Cannes

CMO Lynne Biggar on why the company believes it's the future of payment technologies

The goal, Biggar told Adweek in a conversation ahead of her talk at Cannes, is to to give customers a "sense of completion" when they make a transaction with their Visa cards. Visa
Headshot of Diana Pearl

CANNES, France—On stage at the Debussy Theatre on the first day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Visa CMO Lynne Biggar announced that the company is doubling down on its sensory branding (meaning a consumer will hear a sound, see an animation or feel a phone vibration when their transaction completes).

Visa is expanding its sensory branding to 25 countries through over a dozen new partnerships it has in the works. It’ll arrive across a number of platforms and venues, from the physical (like San Francisco’s Oracle Park, or on a tablet at a local Olive Garden) to the technological, such as mobile wallet apps.

The goal, Biggar told Adweek in a conversation ahead of her talk at Cannes, is to to give customers a “sense of completion” when they make a transaction with their Visa cards.

“There’s a sense of energy,” Biggar said of the multi-sensory branding. “It’s a very quick moment, because commerce is fast and the consumer doesn’t want to stop and listen to a two minute song. Our sound is that a second, but in that second, a lot happens.”

“It’s amazing that so much meaning can be packed into such a short little sound,” she added.

Visa first introduced its multi-sensory branding at the end of 2017. Now, Biggar sees this expanding further to other devices like a FitBit or to in-person experiences, such as sport or music venues.

Visa is a major player in the world of corporate sponsorships, so it should come as no surprise that partnerships will play a major role in further rolling out its sensory branding suite. This expansion can currently be seen across the stadiums playing host to the FIFA Women’s World Cup throughout France: Whenever a fan makes a purchase in those stadiums, whether it’s buying food, tickets or merchandise, they’ll experience Visa’s sensory branding. The stadiums are also exclusive to Visa—no other cards can be used there. In the future, Visa will continue to use these moments to create these sort of experiences for their consumers.

“We look at our sponsorship properties like the Olympics as learning labs and innovation labs,” said Biggar. “[They’re] opportunities for us to kind of share the future of payments in addition to other ways that we work with these partners.”

A quick sound, animation or movement may seem small, but Biggar feels that it’s the future of payment technologies, particularly as more and more people are using devices besides a card itself to complete a transaction. As the way we make purchases continues to change and adapt to new technology, Biggar says that sensory branding helps to comfort the consumer and make them feel certain in using these new mechanisms.

“It’s going the final mile to ensure that a consumer actually feels confident in making a transaction,” she said. “This is for the betterment of the ecosystem that we’re doing this. It’s less about us and more about ensuring that as commerce evolves, consumers feel the same trust and confidence in the future as they have in the past.”

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@dianapearl_ Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.