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American Express sees no threat from growth of digital wallets in India

The multi-national financial services organisation sees enough room of growth for digital wallets along with debit and credit cards in India. Manoj Adlakha, CEO, American Express Banking Corp, India spoke to BestMediaInfo at the launch of the brand’s first India-centric campaign ‘Don’t Live Life / Don’t Do Business Without It’

Financial services organisation American Express is not bothered by the growth of digital wallets as it sees enough scope for everyone to grow.

Manoj Adlakha

“The total GDP in India in 2017 was $2.5 trillion. The private consumption expenditure, which is 60% of that, is $1.5 trillion. Within that, $150 billion was spent on credit cards, debit cards and all the digital wallets put together with Paytm being one small component,” said Manoj Adlakha, CEO, American Express Banking Corp, India on the back of its first India-centric brand campaign “Powerful Backing of American Express: Don’t Live Life / Don’t Do Business Without It”.

He added, “According to RBI reports, credit and debit cards accounted for $140billion of that. All the digital wallets put together accounted for $10billion. Digital wallets possess only 5% share of the GDP. I wouldn’t say I am bothered, but there is enough headroom for everyone to grow.”

American Express has been doing marketing and promotional exercises since its inception in India, but it is the first time that the brand has come up with an India-specific campaign in 90 years of its existence in India. Explaining the rationale behind launching the India-specific campaign now, Adlakha said, “Firstly it’s never too late to do anything. Globally payments have become prominent in everyone’s lives. In India, in the last few months, the payments industry has taken a big boost. Thanks to events like demonetisation, goods and services tax and some of the other interventions the government has taken. As a result of that, the entire industry has benefitted, including American Express. India has predominantly been a cash society, where only 10% of the private consumption expenditure is on cards. So the runway for growth for all the players is huge. It’s a great business model.”

The campaign has gone live across mediums, including social, outdoor and cinemas in a big way, except television. On not using television, Adlakha said, “We believe that in current digital world, there is going to be look and feel through print and outdoor and then digital is where our majority of assets are.”

The campaign is executed by Ogilvy and Mindshare together in India.

Commenting on the media strategy, Ruchi Mathur, Senior Vice-President, North & East India at Mindshare, said, “For today’s audiences with hybrid lives and complex paths to purchase, we leveraged relevant media and data intelligence to decode the mindset, media consumption behaviours and connected journeys to deliver the communication to each audience segment, in the right context through the right medium. Basis these findings, we developed an integrated brand and demand focused media strategy that will keep the audiences engaged throughout the brand funnel, finally leading them towards becoming American Express members.”

Elaborating more on the campaign, Adlakha said, “This is the first time we’re introducing a campaign that speaks to all of the customer segments we serve, with a single, overarching message: American Express has your back, in life and in work. Relationships are core to who we are. Since our inception, we’ve put our customers at the centre of everything we do. The campaign reinforces the enduring relationships we have with our customers and how we support them in ways big and small.”

Adlakhatalked about the insight of the campaign, “The way people work and live has transformed – there is greater interconnectedness in both personal and work life, as well as real and virtual interactions. This blended, hybrid lifestyle is the new norm across the world – India is no exception. The new brand platform is a response to the fact that our customers are living diverse and layered lives. Our new campaign focuses on the powerful backing that we provide our customers and partners, enabling them to navigate this blended lifestyle.”

With the new brand platform, American Express is drawing on its heritage of service, security and trust and modernising many elements of its brand iconography, including a modern articulation of a famous tagline, refreshing its Blue Box logo and visual identity and introducing a hand-drawn version of its famous card design that features its customers at the centre.

The work was created by Mcgarrybowen, Pentagram, Ogilvy, Mindshare and Digitas. The advertising was directed by renowned director Lance Accord, and the photography was shot by award-winning photographer Matthieu Young.

A recent global study commissioned by American Express showed that more than half of people today are living hybrid lives, with personal and work life deeply intertwined. The study, conducted in eight markets including India, also revealed that two in three people feel they can achieve more because of this work-life integration.

*Morning Consult, on behalf of American Express, conducted a series of surveys in eight markets (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States) of approximately 2,000 adults from March 3-14, 2018.

‘Hybrid Life’ as identified in American Express’ ‘Live Life’ survey is characterised by increasing interconnectedness between work and personal life, as well as real and virtual interactions. It results in deeper work-life integration enabled by technology.


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