American Express’ local head of consumer marketing on taking its new digital offers platform to market

Global payment firm American Express recently launched a digital offers platform, using new technology based on the individual spending patterns of members.

The digital platform comprises three main aspects:

  • Made-for-you offers: customers can see which offers are currently available, and save the offer to their card without any prepayment or obligation to use,
  • Places: based on individual spending history and location, the American Express app will provide shopping or personal dining recommendations, and
  • Local Champion: card members will be rewarded by frequently visiting their favourite businesses.

 

Marketing spoke to Dean Chadwick, VP of consumer marketing for Australia and New Zealand, to ask about Amex’s new digital offers platform, the benefits to consumers and merchants and how American Express is approaching the exercise.

Marketing: You did some research around people using discount vouchers and offers and relevancy was a big issue, as well as the value. Is that how you’ve approached it, needing to address those main two problems?

Dean Chadwick: Yeah. Consumers want choice, there’s that value component and then the convenience then to be able to look at those offers, save those offers and then redeem those offers at a point in time. Certainly, as we look through some of the initial results, which we were very encouraged about, some of the offers from our merchants hit the enrolment count within a number of days, which just shows demand. People are loading offers to their American Express card, and we’re also seeing the redemption rate extremely high, up to 25% in certain cases.

So there are a couple of streams of your new digital offers platform. There’s ‘Made For You’ offers tailored to how people like to shop, as well as ‘Places’ where it’s more like what’s popular here?

Yeah, it it’s two streams of content. Offers which are curated by the merchants which may give a ‘spend 20 get 10′ type value construct. And then the recommendations to me is almost like a always-on content source, using some of our data to determine where people may like to future shop, based on other people’s spending habits.

How is this delivered? Is it an email or an app?

We use the traffic that comes through the online servicing environment in terms of trafficking, we built out our iPhone app, and we also have another platform called Connect. We’re thinking of how we create good content, frequent content, quality content but also thinking about our distribution reach at the same time to make sure it gets to a broader number of customers.

Do you see this as a natural extension for payment providers in general?

Well, I think it’s an extension of how we think about creating commerce, and we certainly have the uniqueness of what we call our closed loop data and our relationships, so we know what’s happening on the merchant side as well as the consumer side, and [the question is] how do we start to close the gap between those two constituents? So it is unique for us to be able to provide that type of value within the space in an intelligible way.

What kind of merchants are getting involved on the offers?

We’ve had some marquee offers from David Jones and Liquorland and we continue to source new content from our within our client management organisation from the merchants directly. So it’s, again, how do we demonstrate this always-on marketing platform to those merchants

Is it primarily a retention or acquisition initiative – is it just giving more value to existing card holders or are you also using it to promote to new customers as well?

We certainly started the journey thinking this would add incremental value our customer base and incremental value to our merchant customers as well. That being said, you know, I do think it is demonstrating great value and it’s another benefit that we should look to advertise out as to become an American Express customer.

How does it work on the merchant side? Is it pay-to-play to become involved in the program, above being an Amex merchant?

At the moment we’re working out what’s the best way to engage with those merchants to make sure they’re a part of that program and to demonstrate where you know the value is in terms of increased sales, loyalty, new scale, opportunities for them.

The third aspect of this offers platform is the ‘Local Champion’ part. Where do you see that heading in the next couple of years?

I’m very pleased with how that one is coming about. For me it’s around being committed to a product. I’d say at the moment we have the MVP, the minimum viable product, in the market place which allows us early consumer reaction.

Based on what I’ve seen right now we’re committed to another few sprints and evolutions of the product, look at the UI a little bit, look at some of the gaming mechanisms within it, how would we close the loop with the merchants so that the merchants would know that Dean Chadwick is that ‘Local Champion’ of that particular business. We’re looking to evolve it based on what we’re seeing in the market place.

 

Is that test-and-learn approach a big change in how projects are implemented at Amex? Is it unique to digital projects?

We’ve always been a big test-and-learn company, but I think with the dynamism of technology changes and consumer behaviour we have to be a lot smarter in our testing approach. And having pulled together this blended team of coders, UX designers, marketing strategy, econometricians, for us to be much more nimble internally and getting these products out to market is very key to what I believe is a good marketing practitioner and for us to be able to do business in the future.

Sometimes we’re not always successful and we have to learn by our mistakes and learn very quickly, and then optimise that particular product to make it better. I certainly know that after two days of a product in market, I know how well it’s doing, rather than it just being on a PowerPoint slide.