Telum Talks To: Dheeraj Raina from Mastercard
Interview

Telum Talks To: Dheeraj Raina from Mastercard

Dheeraj Raina is Vice President and Head of Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC), Southeast Asia for Mastercard. He shared Mastercard's IMC approach within the region and how brands could adapt and reap benefits from the approach.

Congratulations on your latest appointment at Mastercard! What excites you the most about this chapter ahead?
Thank you! What excites me most about being part of Mastercard in Southeast Asia is the opportunity to contribute to the digital transformation of the people and economies in the markets we operate in. Our strong capabilities and depth of expertise in this area earns us the right to play and gives us the ability to make a significant impact and drive positive change.

One aspect that particularly excites me is the company’s commitment to connecting consumers with their passions, such as through our Priceless platform. We know that people are not just looking for products or services but something more meaningful and memorable, so this provides a great opportunity for marketing to deliver world-class experiences.

Mastercard has therefore taken a multisensory approach to our marketing efforts, from smell with world-class fragrances, sound with our sonic brand identity, and taste through our diverse dining partnerships around the world. This enables us to engage consumers in ways that resonate deeply and foster a lasting connection with our brand.

I believe this unique marketing approach sets us apart and allows us to truly connect with consumers.

Could you share with us what you find distinctive about Mastercard's approach to integrated marketing and communications in the SEA region?
What stands out is the finely nuanced approach we take to each market. This is the ‘digital decade’ for the region and, while there are certain commonalities, bespoke approaches enable us to take into consideration the unique consumer behaviours and cultural aspects of each country.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing approach across Southeast Asia. This also means going beyond simply getting the brand message out, and instead delivering messages that are relevant and will resonate with the particular mindset of our target audience in each market.

More than that, we also put a major focus on enabling our customers and end-consumers to engage in the fast-growing digital ecosystem. Our signature Priceless program, comprising Priceless Experiences (unique experiences) and Priceless Specials (exceptional offers), is also specially customised and curated in a way that fits the local context, to ensure that our program continuously engages with our target segment.

Have IMC approaches become the norm for brands across the region nowadays? Where do you think brands see the value in adopting this approach?
I am a firm believer that IMC delivers a trifecta of benefits: a captivating and consistent brand story, a seamless customer experience, and the ability to properly measure marketing effectiveness and efficiency. When paid, owned, and earned media work in tandem, they drive more effective brand messaging that resonates with customers. For this reason, IMC approaches have certainly become more widespread for brands across the region.

I’d like to think of marketing and communications as integral components in the marketing funnel. Communications work as a top-of-the-funnel approach, focusing on brand awareness and thought leadership. Marketing, meanwhile, guides customers throughout and down the funnel, where consistent messaging across channels help drive conversion.

This holistic approach ensures a cohesive consumer experience and maximizes the impact of marketing efforts. Therefore, the integration of marketing and communications is crucial for effective brand messaging and in driving customers through the marketing funnel.

You've spent close to 20 years in Southeast Asia's communications, marketing and digital industries and have led in-house and agency teams across sectors. What keeps you passionate about this field, especially in data and tech?
My passion in this ever-changing industry is fueled by the excitement of embracing constant evolution. As marketers, we are in the business of inspiration, but that fire needs to be refueled every now and then.

One thing that drives my love for what I do is having learned to be comfortable with change and ambiguity, which allows me to take calculated risks in decision-making. This comfort with the unknown enables me to make informed decisions, blending the power of data (around 80 per cent) to guide decisions, complemented by a touch of gut feeling (20 per cent) to add a human touch.

Marketing is truly much more about the data and science behind it, than the intuition or gut feeling. It should always be backed by data and insights to demonstrate why we’re doing something and how it is driving results for the business. This combination of a data-driven approach with experience-led insight is crucial to showcase the value of marketing.

Data and technology have gone through so much evolution over the past decade, which keeps me excited about what will come next as we strive to stay at the forefront of innovation.

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