The Importance Of Disney's MyMagic+

Disney announced that it plans to introduce something called MyMagic+. The company calls it a “vacation management system,” incorporating rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information. The bracelets would enable alerts to be sent to guests, as well as — you guessed it — offers to buy things, and (very importantly) the ability to pay for things.

My take: Disney is legitimizing the notion that Payments is the new 5th P of marketing. 

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To refresh your memory, some time ago, someone came up with the notion that there are 4 Ps of marketing — product, place, price, and promotion. These 4 Ps are the levers that marketers can pull or adjust to influence marketing performance. 

These 4 Ps have survived many changes in the world of marketing. Some folks have tried to introduce new Ps — like “people” or “personality” or “personalization” — but none have stuck (rightfully, so) because they don’t really clear the bar of being a lever that marketers can adjust. People, personality, personalization — and other Ps — are simply not part of the marketing mix.

Last August, I tried to argue that Payments were emerging as the new P in marketing. That, in effect, changing how someone paid for a product or service could influence their choice of product or service in the first place. 

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What Disney is doing with its MyMagic+ bracelet is changing the customer experience by changing how the customer pays for something. 

Disney is rumored to be spending $800 million to $1 billion on MyMagic+. 

There are a lot of ways Disney could be spending that money. It could build new rides (Product), it could build a new park somewhere (Place), it could provide $800 million in discounted prices to lure more people to visit (Price), or it could spend that money on advertising (Promotion).

But its not. The company is spending it on changing the way guests pay for things. And by doing so, changing what people buy, and changing the overall customer experience.

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What Disney is demonstrating is that payments — as the 5th P of marketing — isn’t an opportunity for just financial services firms and upstarts. 

There’s a saying that politics makes strange bedfellows. The same is true for profits.

The opportunity to increase profits by changing the payment experience is going to create new partnerships for retailers, merchants, travel providers, etc. and financial services firms. 

The problem — from a financial services industry perspective — is threefold. Many financial services marketers:

  1. Lack the marketing sophistication of retailers and merchants.
  2. Are stuck in “interchange fee maximization” mode.
  3. Think their role in payments is “money movement” not “purchase influence.”

The problem — from a retailer/merchant perspective — is twofold. Many retailers/merchants:

  1. Don’t effectively allocate marketing dollars across the existing marketing mix, so adding a new P to the mix causes confusion, not opportunity.
  2. Partnerships with financial services firms have historically delivered little value, and new ventures (e.g. card-linked offers) haven’t proven their mettle yet, so retailers/merchants are disinclined to shift investments to the new P.

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Disney’s investment in MyMagic+ shines a spotlight on payments as the 5th P.  You’ll see.

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