VISA in Ukraine – finding human insights beneath the surface


Human beings wake up and think about their family, the challenges they need to cope with at school, or on the job. They think about the activities or hobbies they’re passionate about, and the concerns – even fears – they may have in their life. They don’t see themselves in terms of being ‘credit card users’, ‘yogurt eaters’, ‘beer drinkers’, ‘price shoppers’, and so on. Those are all just small incidents and activities in a much broader and deeper life – their life. As we dig into data on what they do in the broader context of their life, it provides valuable human insights as to why they do these things.

Trying to focus on everyone won’t get us anywhere. Better to focus time and efforts on the customer segment that will make a real difference in growing your business.

The power of focusing on the right trendsetter

Human Insights - the power of focus

Figure 1. The Power of Focus

Once the brand selects the trendsetter, by focusing on that target the brand will benefit from a stronger emotional connection (and thus loyalty) as well as more efficient allocation of resources. In addition to wanting to increase average transaction size and frequency of usage, VISA in Ukraine was facing a crucial business challenge: to regain the preference of younger customers (18 to 30-year olds) who were slowly but steadily switching to their biggest competitor, Mastercard.

Broad initiatives targeting young customers managed to generate some initial interest but failed to build a long-lasting bond with any customer segments. It was the classic case of trying to be all things to all people; they ended up being nothing meaningful to anyone. VISA had aimed at reaching the whole young adult life stage rather than focusing on a lead segment to build something meaningful that could then influence a larger share of the young population. VISA needed to tighten their focus before they could broaden and grow their market share.

The face of the brand

The first step was to select the face of the brand with a lead target segment to turn the switching trend around and regain the trust and involvement of the younger generation. After a series of analyses, the customer segment with the highest potential to do so in Ukraine was clear: CHARDONNAY GIRLS. This segment was overperforming on all business objectives and a perfect fit for credit cards, being that they are the most impulsive shoppers among the whole Ukrainian population.

Top 10 impulsive shoppers in ukraine

Figure 2. Impulsive Shoppers

Impulsivity is important in the credit card industry because fundamentally, credit cards are expandable cash – buy now and pay later. Those with the highest need for expandable cash are those consumers who buy impulsively – often and for a lot. Besides showing a great profitability fit, CHARDONNAY GIRLS also match with VISA’s values and personality. They are passionate, socially active, fully in tune with the latest news, always present at the hottest spots, and very active on all digital channels. All these factors made them extremely valuable in terms of influencing power and word of mouth.

Beneath the surface – Looking for the Golden Human Insights

The challenge at this point was to find the Golden Human Insights, connected to precise needs and tension points of the target that would enable VISA to exponentially increase their revenues. Looking at CHARDONNAY GIRLS’ financial preferences was not enough. A complete overview of their consumption behavior across all categories, associated with their lifestyle preferences, shopping habits, and media consumption was necessary to reach the level of human insights needed so that VISA could connect with them on a much deeper emotional level.

Human insights - Data source

Figure 3. Key Behaviors Captured

Armed with the largest single-source database available in the country (TNS MMI), human insights mining was undertaken through a process of connecting the dots across a wide range of product categories important to CHARDONNAY GIRLS to more completely understand the motivations driving all their decisions.

An important factor when analyzing a specific profile is to always maintain total objectivity. Continuing with the example of CHARDONNAY GIRLS, the stereotype associated with this type of customer is the one of a superficial, fashion-addicted girl, easily influenced by celebrities, partying all the time, and attracted by fame, brands, and eye-catching apparel. The reality, supported by an enormous amount of data, illustrates a fuller picture of this influential segment.

First, despite a prevalence of females (65%), there are also several males in the segment, sharing the same values, aspirations, and worries.

How are Chardonnay Girls really like?

Hor the real chardonnay girls are

Figure 4. The Real CHARDONNAY GIRL

Although they want to make an impression, they abhor doing so in an ostentatious or vulgar way. CHARDONNAY GIRLS naturally stand out as sophisticated, both through their elegant clothes and cherished gadgets as well as through their cultural choices and wider interests. They are typically above-average in education and perform well in their studies and/or professional life. They wholly put forth the passion that characterizes them in every activity they participate in.

Second, considering the opinion that others sometimes have about them, one of their biggest tension points is to be perceived as shallow and superficial. They know they are smart and cultured, but that they are also too often judged just by their appearance, which they both value and resent. Another major tension point is related to their authenticity. They love to be up-to-date and to follow the latest fashion trends, allowing them to fully express themselves as completely outside as they feel inside. However, that behavior, if misunderstood, can be perceived as artificial, like a mask seeking to be liked by everybody without ever showing their real self.

Last, but not least, the third priority tension point identified for CHARDONNAY GIRLS was connected to being considered one of many in a larger grouping consisting of many types of people. For an ambitious segment like CHARDONNAY GIRLS, being one of the many is like drowning in a sea of mediocrity. They constantly want to raise the bar and stand out from the crowd, freely following their aspirations and desires with enthusiasm, while having enthusiastically and visibly having fun during the journey.

From human insights to action

Once everybody on the VISA marketing team had a clear and aligned understanding of the target, the path to follow was evident. It was necessary to build a meaningful, deliverable, and defendable proposition built on the target’s needs and tension points.

An additional challenge for VISA was that their product was always offered through a banking partner. One bank in Ukraine stood out in terms of being a perfect match with the CHARDONNAY GIRLS’ personality: Alpha Bank. The team immediately put in place a pilot project to create a joint proposition aimed at delivering as much value as possible to the target.

After several interactions and brainstorming, the team reached an agreement. The feeling that VISA and Alpha Bank wanted CHARDONNAY GIRLS to experience was the one of mischievousness.

  1. Playful – delivering on their need for enjoyment and fun
  2. Charismatic, but never shallow
  3. Dynamic and standing out from the crowd

At this point, everything was ready for implementation, with all inputs organized in a single document. As legendary creative David Ogilvy once famously said: “Give me the freedom of a tight brief,” which was exactly the capability VISA and Alpha Bank sought in the data-mining process and were consequently able to deliver to their creative agency.

by Luca Bertocci

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