Category: Financial Services
Visa customers in China are accustomed to using the Chinese payment method UnionPay when they go overseas. They did not realize Visa actually has very wide coverage abroad, so the objective for Visa was to find a direct way to make Visa noticed and increase its overseas transactions. This led the brand to launch the “Visa Rental Bike” initiative in several overseas cities, which presented young Chinese travelers with a unique opportunity to go off the beaten track with Visa, and open their eyes to the benefits of using Visa abroad.
Visa faced tough competition in China because the credit card market has been primarily dominated by UnionPay and other domestic players. Also, it was unable to issue credit cards in China as the market was not open to foreign companies. Addressing this challenge was important for Visa’s growth in market share in China. Visa had to find a new way to attract Chinese customers and get UnionPay out of their minds.
Visa wanted to appeal to young, affluent Chinese customers who are more independent and willing to explore on their own when travelling abroad. This young audience is unlike traditional Chinese tourists who typically prefer group travel and visit only the most famous tourist attractions.
Visa’s idea of setting up the Visa Rental Bike program -- free for all Visa customers – was the answer to its marketing challenge. It equipped Chinese youths both with bikes and a mobile location-based GPS to explore lesser-known areas of popular cities beyond the usual tourist traps; the bikes were also a vital tool for Visa to direct these Chinese travelers to Visa merchants. Whenever a Chinese bike rider followed the recommended routes, they were also being guided to explore Visa-accepting vendors who may not accept UnionPay credit cards. All in all, it was a way to provide travellers easy access to “off-the-beaten-track” exploration, while building a relationship between them and Visa.
Moreover, the mobile devices allowed users to capture their personal adventures and discoveries abroad and share them on social media as well as on the Visa website. But Visa did not stop there: the devices automatically recorded new routes and updated options for the next overseas Chinese Visa biker, and informed young travelers at home in China through website updates.
To motivate these keen travelers when they were still at home, Visa created engaging online content using a character representing the traditional Chinese tourists that young, affluent Chinese travelers didn’t want to be like. Word spread fast about Visa’s rental bikes, through social media influencers, online videos, print and outdoor ads. These all led the target market to Visa’s website where they could actually experience a Visa bike tour by watching virtual reality videos and see the hidden gems of their favorite cities firsthand.
Mobile-supported bike rides were the core component of the campaign because they gave young Chinese a more accessible means of exploring cities abroad than navigating foreign public transport systems; additionally, cycling is an inherent part of Chinese culture. By launching Visa Bike Rental, the brand was able to push aside UnionPay from the minds of these Chinese travelers.
Offering free bike tours was a very innovative idea for a financial services brand, far from the typical use of media channels for Visa and the industry in general. It has set a new standard for Visa in terms of leveraging technology and channels in creative ways to better create a unique and memorable brand experience.
The campaign was hugely successful. Here are some statistics about how it performed: