The Value of Experience: 5 Questions With Citi CMO Jennifer Breithaupt

Citi is a king of experiential marketing, and the financial services icon is doubling down on its success.

As a pioneer in marketing based on consumer experiences, Citi has been operating at a rarefied level in this arena for more than a decade and this year, it plans to host a total of 12,000 events around the world.

“And that’s across a ton of different verticals including music, sports, culinary and theater,” Citi CMO Jennifer Breithaupt told brandchannel. “It also includes lifestyle marketing and tapping into places where our consumers want to have a special experience.”

New Citi research shows a strong correlation between consumers interacting with a brand through events and their loyalty to that brand. It found that 85% of 1,000 adults surveyed agreed they “have a much more positive perception of companies after attending their event(s).” And 78% said they would be “a customer for life” if a brand invited them to be a VIP at an event.

Following attendance at a live event, 38% of attendees would most likely visit the company’s website (including 46% of millennials), and 32% would most likely purchase the company’s products or services (39% for millennials).

brandchannel talked with Breithaupt about Citi’s approach to experiential marketing and how it works for the brand.

Why does the experiential approach hold so much power for Citi?

Citi Jennifer Breithaupt

Experiential marketing is key component of our overall marketing strategy. For us as a brand at Citi, it allows us to bring the brand to life and connect with consumers on a deeper and much more emotional level. It’s one of our more strategic approaches to connecting with consumers. We’re proud of our unique connection as an emotive brand, and it is a great differentiator for us in our category.

How are you leveraging it to engage with customers in a deeper and more meaningful way.?

We have obviously millions of customers around the world to reach and connect with. Our music platform is rather large—we work with more than 1,500 artists a year and 6,500 events. And our consumer entertainment platform as a whole is the largest of any brand. That’s an instrumental platform enabling us to establish deeper connections and enhanced loyalty with customers.

Still, how do you make music marketing stand out when it seems everyone is doing it these days?

As a brand it’s been part of our DNA for years. And the reason and rationale is that it creates scalable opportunities—music is the universal language and allows us to connect globally with a broad range of consumers. We also have some strategic partnerships, such as with Live Nation, the largest producer and promoter of live entertainment around the world.

But it’s not just the number of offerings and diversity of partnerships. We also have a new live platform, Citi Sound Vault, which we launched last year during the Grammys. It takes a rather large artist and puts them in a small venue and really the only way into that into that is access with your Citi debit or credit card. It gives fans insider access.

We kicked it off last year with five shows, including Metallica, Sting and Chain Smokers. We continued this year with a crazy roster of Eminem, Dave Matthews, The Root and more. And two weeks ago we had another Citi Sound Vault with Katy Perry, who’d just finished her global stadium tour and did it for us in Los Angeles with 1,600 fans. For us, it’s a good opportunity to connect with fans in a different way than in stadiums.

How else are you now deepening and leveraging your considerable expertise in experience marketing?

We’re bringing content across live entertainment, including sports. Several years back we began partnering with ProCamps, and we create camps for children and adults where they can go and play with their favorite sports hero; it might be Eli Manning. Or you can have a sit-down chat with someone.

How are you tying in Citi loyalty programs with your experiential marketing?

We have Private Pass and Thank You Rewards, a proprietary platform where customer are earning points they can redeem for gift cards, products, travel and experiences. It’s a really unique way for customers to engage and get added value back after they’ve made purchases with their card.

We’re really proud of it, and it continues to evolve over year, like in the way people think about travel experiences and even redeem points for experiences. One of the Citi Sound Vault shows, Katy Perry, was exclusive just for people who have a Thank You card.


Get more insights in our Q&A series.

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