MBNA rethinks direct approach to focus on retail

MBNA, the US credit card giant, is developing new card brands as it attempts to encourage its customers to use their credit cards on the high street, rather than just to pay off debts by swapping between cards offering favourable introductory rates.

The company is talking to a number of strategic, direct marketing and digital agencies about developing a 'retail stimulation programme', which in addition to the new brand development is likely to include a reward scheme and tie-ups with retailers.

The move marks a change in MBNA's marketing strategy, which has traditionally relied on direct mail to promote its portfolio of cards.

It is planning a multi-channel approach, which will include increased online advertising and search engine marketing.

MBNA's global online media budget is being increased to $25m (£13.4m) ahead of a competitive pitch between media agencies. UK incumbent Zed Digital is understood not to be repitching.

Last year, MBNA spent more than £60m on ads, according to Nielsen Media Research, with the majority spent on direct mail, which is handled in-house.

The rethink comes as more credit card firms re-evaluate 0% interest rate offers amid concerns that consumers are increasingly credit-savvy and no longer so lucrative.

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