This Post-Secondary Co-Brand program was originally intended to foster community within Alberta, and bring a sense of philanthropy to the staff and alumni of Albertan Universities and Colleges by providing a convenient vehicle for cardholders to give back to their alma mater. The program ultimately proved unsustainable and cardholder retention and spend declined. My project was to identify a suitable method of reviving the program, and to work with our internal and external stakeholders to implement the solution across Alberta.
The profitability of the Mastercard program was impacted by the consumer perception of the integrated rewards system. The traditional 1% cashback which most Mastercard products employ was split between the consumer and the college, 0.75% directly to the consumer and 0.25% to the institution. Most consumers focused on the personal profitability of the product, preferring credit products which rewarded them with higher cashback or points per dollar spent.
Most consumers focused on the personal profitability of the product, preferring credit products which rewarded them with higher cashback or points per dollar spent.
In addition, the program was exclusive to Students, Alumni, and Staff, requiring either an employee or student ID to be presented at the time of application. This, paired with the bank’s inability to market to non-Albertan consumers as a Government of Alberta Crown Corporation, drastically limited the eligible market for the Mastercard and resulted in a restricted portfolio of consumers who were less likely to be ‘first in wallet’.
After evaluating the current size of the portfolio and the average spend of the customers within, the decision was made to migrate the portfolio from the existing co-branded Rewards Mastercard into one of the bank’s standard Rewards Mastercard portfolios. This would increase the customer cashback rewards from the current 0.75%/0.25% split to a full 1.00% cashback on every dollar spent. To retain the spirit of the co-brand program and continue to support their partner school, we elected to continue to provide 0.25% to the Post-Secondary institution - increasing the actual cashback rewards of the program from 1.00% to 1.25%.
To differentiate between these two programs, we engaged with our marketing teams to create a new co-branded Mastercard design in collaboration with the faculty at the partner school and Mastercard Canada. This new design afforded us the opportunity to incorporate all three organizations’ recently updated branding elements in a modern and clean design.
To execute on the project plan, our team completed a data migration of the existing portfolio to the new portfolio - consisting of the transfer of their transaction histories, purchases, and existing balances to their new accounts; issued new cards to the more than 2700 cardholders; and provided support for an ongoing period following the conversion date to ensure a smooth transition to their new product.
The Co-Brand Rewards program was affected by a negative perception of the consumer rewards program and a portfolio size which was insufficient to support the platform while maintaining profitability. By converting the customers to the alternate Rewards program portfolio, we were able to present the enhanced program to the consumers as a product that was now competitive with similar credit cards within the market, while simultaneously maintaining the collegiate support which popularized the product during its infancy. This resulted in an increased profitability of the program, increased spend, and a higher percentage of ‘first in wallet’ cardholders.
This project helped me to build an understanding of consumer behaviours and how perceptions can impact the performance of a product. As a product manager, it is important to consider not only the efficacy of the solution or product developed, but also to ensure that the customer experience, user interface, or integrated features are considered valuable by your targeted customer and competitive within their respective markets.