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Brand Strategy Mastercard Hong Kong

Mastercard launches an exclusive restaurant experience to engage Hong Kong foodies

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By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

April 13, 2023 | 8 min read

Mastercard has teamed up with Hong Kong's culinary giant Lubuds to create exclusive experiences for consumers. The Drum spoke exclusively to Mastercard about how the brand is connecting consumers to their number one passion - food!

Hong Kong State of the Nation

Mastercard wants to support Hong Kong's recovery and return to its status as a culinary destination

Mastercard is tapping into Asia’s number one passion point: food. Launching a major partnership with Hong Kong's iconic restaurant group Lubuds, Mastercard is creating a series of multi-sensory priceless experiences to engage consumers with its brand.

The partnership sees the financial services brand offer a range of exclusive experiences at Lubuds' 40 Hong Kong dining concepts, including unique dining opportunities and privileges, food and beverages vouchers and specials, as well as cashback offers.

It comes at a critical time for Hong Kong, which is making a significant play to attract visitors back after its’ extended lockdowns and border closure to help supercharge its recovery. The Hong Kong government is investing heavily in marketing activity, while the huge crowds at events such as Rugby Sevens, Art Basel and the Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival are also helping to bring the city back to life.

HK Mastercard Lubuds

Julie Nestor, senior vice president, head of marketing and communications, Asia Pacific, Mastercard told The Drum, the partnership was part of the brand’s commitment to connecting with consumers who were out and about and helping those consumers do the things they love, which in Hong Kong is all about food.

“Mastercard entered into this partnership for a few reasons,” says Nestor, however, top of that list was the brand's desire to tap into Hong Kong's love of food and dining.

“In Asia Pacific, food remains the number one passion point across the region followed by travel, self-care and wellness. This is why we’ve formed this partnership with Lubuds - to encourage consumers to share memorable moments bonding with loved ones over unforgettable meals."

And central to this is supporting the city’s post-pandemic recovery to restore its status as a culinary destination.

“This is a critical period for travel and business recovery in Hong Kong, including its world-renowned F&B industry. With borders re-opened and major events resuming, international visitors are flocking back to Hong Kong while residents are getting out more.” Mastercard’s partnership with Lubuds aims to help re-establish Hong Kong as one of Asia's “premier culinary destinations” and support its recovery by enticing diners to go out and experience “memorable, novel culinary experiences”.

The partnership is a significant first for the brand, marking its first major food and beverage partnership in the Asia Pacific region. Mastercard already hosts restaurants in Italy, Mexico and Brazil. The Notiê Priceless restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has been recognised as the Best Brazilian Restaurant and Chef of the Year. The brand is looking to replicate that success in Hong Kong.

“Through this partnership we will create and enable access to one-of-a-kind culinary experiences designed by renowned chefs and mixologists to indulge all the senses – all of which will showcase the breadth of Mastercard’s multi-sensory brand experience to new audiences,” says Nestor.

It is part of the brand’s strategy to create “pioneering memorable, novel experiences that connect with people through innovative methods”, continues Nestor.

“With consumer attention being as scarce as it is and decreasing by the day, we need to engage with people through alternative routes. One of the innovative routes that we use is deploying a multi-sensory marketing approach that engages the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. This is unusual because brand marketers typically only engage two senses – sound and sight.

“By bringing together our multi-sensory and passion-based approaches, this creates a unique opportunity to create tangible moments that create deeper connections with consumers. Good food is certainly one way to make a lasting impression,” she says.

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Collaborating with kindred spirits

As an iconic Hong Kong food and beverage brand, Lubuds was a natural fit for Mastercard as a “collaborator and kindred spirit that innately, expertly, crafts unforgettable, priceless experiences for their guests – an approach that resonates strongly with the essence of the Mastercard brand.”

The timing was crucial, too, with the brand seeking to tap into consumers' post-pandemic desires for real-life experiences and revenge spending trends.

“In this uncertain period, consumers are responding to higher inflation and economic flux by opting for cheaper everyday spend options so that they can continue to splurge on experiences they love, like travel and eating out.

“We’re living in the new experiential age where consumers are valuing experiences more than ever. In fact, Mastercard data shows that 69% of consumers across Asia Pacific prioritize experiences over material possessions. This means that people are becoming ever more intentional with how they spend their time and on what activities.

According to the brand’s research, Hong Kong is now one of the most desirable destinations for post-pandemic travel for Chinese Mainland consumers, ranking number one for business purposes and number two for leisure.

“There’s a significant amount of pent-up demand with people excited to be out spending again and international visitors returning in droves. We know dining has always formed a large part of the experience, so we’re delighted to play a role in that by offering consumers priceless experiences and dining privileges through our partnership with Lubuds,” says Nestor.

Mastercard’s partnership with Lubuds is open-ended, with the brand planning to continue to support the economy and the region in general. All signs point to a positive recovery for Hong Kong; Nestor says year-on-year spending at restaurants and bars is up 419%, while spending at travel agencies (491%) and airlines (962%) is also recording remarkable growth.

“Hong Kong is back with a bang,” adds Nestor.

Brand Strategy Mastercard Hong Kong

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