Barclaycard says it must target younger shoppers as it launches new campaign with BuzzFeed

Admitting Barclaycard’s audience currently “skews too far” towards older consumers, Barclaycard’s chief marketing officer Katherine Whitton hopes the brand’s renewed focus on music and partnerships with the likes of Snapchat can also boost its loyalty among millennials.

Barclaycard, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has partnered with BuzzFeed for the new ‘Great British Music Showdown’ campaign. The credit card brand will use the answers from an online quiz to assess the UK’s musical DNA region-by-region, while each person who completes the quiz will also be given their own personalised avatar.

The ‘dance bot’ avatar will have over a million unique versions and be sharable across social media. Barclaycard will also be working with Snapchat for the first time as it promotes the campaign via Snap Ads.

Whitton admits the credit card brand has had to rethink its marketing over recent years, with an increasing number of its consumers now most active on social channels.

She told Marketing Week: “The key for brands in any sector, and not just financial services, is to entertain. More and more of our budget is going into digital channels as that’s where our customers are living so making sure we’re entertaining them is a priority.

“If you look at our core base of consumers it skews too far into the older generation. Our core base of older consumers remains very important to us but it’s also important we target gaining the loyalty of the next generation by running activity such as the dance bots and by being as relevant as possible on digital channels .”

Why Barclaycard is focusing on music

This “relevance” will owe a lot to the brand’s continued alignment with music. Starting today (July 1), Barclaycard will be running its annual British Summertime festival in Hyde Park.

Running over the next two weekends, Whitton hopes the festival can become “just as established” as a Glastonbury and says music now provides the brand with an “authenticity”  that banking or financial brands often struggle to secure.

Consumers that complete the quiz are assigned their own shareable and personalised ‘dance bot’. Barclaycard says it is planning to use the bots again.

“Like most national services brands, we are highly regulated about what we can say about our products so the most important thing you look for in sponsorships is mass appeal,” she explained.

“Yes we could just go down the sport route like everybody else but all of our market research tells us that music is ubiquitous and hugely pertinent. It gives us an authenticity even in difficult times.”

In mentioning “difficult times”, Whitton could very well be referring to Brexit. Earlier this week, Barclays shares fell so heavily – with declines of up to 20% – that trading had to be suspended on multiple occasions.

However, Whitton insisted it is “business as usual” and that post-Brexit “there’s no need to look at a crystal ball as our mandate is only to help people buy and sell, nothing else.”

The next chapter for payment brands

Looking forward, Whitton predicts the move towards a cashless society only to intensify. She revealed that Barclaycard’s focus is very much to be inspired by the likes of Uber, in coming up with solutions that embed frictionless payments into the retail experience.

“Whether the idea of cashless society actually comes to fruition, well who knows? But it’s impossible to not be inspired by brands like Uber where the whole appeal is on cash disappearing.”

Barclaycard’s chief marketing officer Katherine Whitton

She added: “We’re also inspired by making payment an ingredient that’s embedded so there’s a seamless nature to it. We’ve trying to do that with our contactless bPay wearables brand but also by being inspired by brands like Wagamama. You can now use its restaurant app to just pay for your food and walk away from your table once you’ve finished. We think the dining experience should always be like that.”

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Barclaycard launched a TV advert back in May to reinforce the card’s role in the nation’s shopping habits and look at how buying behaviour has evolved over the half-century.

And Whitton says in the rush to innovate, many marketers often unwisely choose to ignore their history.

She concluded: “Our first ad was eight pages in the Daily Mail on 29 June 1966 and the slogan was ‘Barclaycard is all about shopping’. That message is as relevant today as it was back then and we need to return to it.

“We have 10.5 million customers and hundreds of thousands of retailers using a Barclaycard system so our dialogue must reiterate that very simple message of the brand enabling people to buy the things that they love. We want to be on the Snapchats and partner with the BuzzFeeds, sure, but that core message must be maintained for us to succeed.”

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