MasterCard unveils an Elite loyalty credit card
MasterCard has launched its latest platform to support elite affluent consumers, small businesses and executives of large corporations. The 'World Elite MasterCard' provides a mixture of travel benefits and luxury rewards, including personalised travel agency services through an alliance with Virtuoso.
The World Elite payment cards were designed to create a distinct brand position for MasterCard within the elite affluent demographic (which the company defines as cardholders with annual household incomes of at least US$250,000 per year). In addition to these affluent consumers, MasterCard says it will begin marketing cards for small businesses and corporate executives during 2007.
The first World Elite card, the Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard, issued by HSBC, has already been launched.
Affluent consumers The affluent segment is a key growth area for MasterCard. According to recent data from the American Affluence Research Center and the CIA World Fact Book, the wealthiest 10% of US households account for around 40% of the nation's total income.
The growth of the affluent segment in recent years has also fuelled the expansion of the luxury category, which is estimated to have been worth more than US$1 trillion in 2005. Indeed, spending on experiential luxuries (such as travel, dining and entertainment) nearly doubled in 2005.
Changing mindset MasterCard's analysis of the affluent consumer demographic revealed a changing mindset, marked by a strong desire for personal attention, best-in-class service, and memorable experiences.
World Elite, which was quite openly built around these consumer demands, is intended to resonate with affluent and luxury-seeking consumers while helping to drive increased spending for the benefit of luxury merchants.
Travel benefits The new strategic alliance with travel agency Virtuoso will provide cardholders with a range of luxury travel benefits, such as: advice from a designated Virtuoso consultant; free companion air tickets (with the purchase of full-fare business class tickets for international travel on specific airlines); upgrades for international travel on selected airlines; shore excursions and private cocktail receptions on four cruise lines; members-only rates and room availability options at over 650 of hotels, resorts, lodges and villas around the world; free daily breakfasts for two and hotel room upgrades (subject to availability); hotel VIP status; free subscriptions to travel publications such as Virtuoso Life and the Best of the Best hotel directory.
Other travel-related benefits available to cardholders include: airport lounge access around the world; privileged access to special events, performing arts theatres, restaurants, art galleries, and spas in ten US cities (New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington).
Loyalty benefits Cardholders will also be able to earn a variety of travel, merchandise, and entertainment rewards, as well as being given privileged access to special events and having no preset spending limit imposed on their card.
The World Elite platform will deploy integrated marketing programmes that reinforce the value proposition of the card with consumers while also driving activation and usage. A print and online advertising campaign, beginning in October 2006, will make use of MasterCard's insights and analysis of the elite affluent demographic to make the most of these consumers' apparent passion for experiences and travel. The World Elite platform will have associated premium pricing, expected to be announced in Q1 2007.