Chasing a retail trend, Mastercard names a chief experience officer

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Mastercard has named Donald Chesnut as the company’s chief experience officer to help drive a clear and consistent experience for Mastercard’s various audiences.

In the newly created role, Chesnut will focus on the consumer payment experience and seek a “more holistic” way for merchants, issuers and other partners to work with Mastercard, the payment card brand said in a Friday press release.

The move puts Mastercard on the same track as retailers such as Footlocker, Bonobos and Vineyard Vines, which began adding an executive to oversee the customer experience in recent years. J. Crew last year hired Starbucks exec Adam Brotman as its chief experience officer.

“Mastercard is late to the party with something that retailers have been pursuing for some time now,” said Richard Crone, principal with Crone Consulting LLC. “Retail happens now across multiple channels, and Mastercard has figured out they need to follow this trend to stay relevant.”

A longtime digital marketing and advertising executive, Chesnut comes from Publicis Groupe’s SapientRazorfish interactive agency, where he has served as chief experience officer for the last two years. More than 20 years ago, early in his career, Chesnut spent a year as senior manager of interactive services at American Express.

“I firmly believe that the brands that put customer-centric thinking across all parts of the organization, products and services are those that will be the leaders through this next wave of digital transformation,” Chesnut said in a statement supplied via Mastercard.

Mastercard has spent hundreds of millions of dollars already driving home a message about the Mastercard experience with its Priceless advertising campaign, but the changing digital and omnichannel environment may require a more precise execution at the user level, observers noted.

“Certain customer groups—millennials, upscale and mass affluents—are increasingly prioritizing experiences over products and this appears to be a way for Mastercard to tap into that sentiment,” said Ali Raza, president of the Atlanta-based payments consulting firm Blue Leviathan.

With an academic background in computer science and dramatic literature, Chesnut has worked across a broad spectrum of marketing, design and advertising campaigns.

“Donald’s background and extensive work with leading brands across cultures and countries will build on a strong foundation and strengthen our ongoing activities,” said Michael Miebach, Mastercard’s chief product officer, in the release.

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