Modern Marketing

Synchrony is launching a content marketing platform with CNBC

  • Synchrony is partnering with CNBC on branded content and live events as part of a content marketing push called "State of Pay"
  • State of Pay will explore how people shop and pay for things and will be distributed on CNBC channels, Facebook Live, Twitter and Apple News, as well as through activations at events like ShopTalk
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Synchrony is launching a content marketing platform with CNBC

Synchrony, the 85-year-old issuer of private label retail credit cards, is rebranding from Synchrony Financial and launching television programs, branded content and live events as part of a content marketing push called “State of Pay.”

State of Pay, done by CNBC Brand Studio, will explore how people shop and pay for things and will be distributed on CNBC channels, Facebook Live, Twitter and Apple News, as well as through activations at events like ShopTalk, which took place this week in Las Vegas and where Synchrony and CNBC introduced the partnership.

“Just like retail brands thinking about an omnichannel experience so do financial services brands and thats why we’re here activating at ShopTalk… to try to connect and humanize what can be a somewhat rational product,” said Elspeth Dixon, Synchrony’s svp of corporate brand. “Humanizing a brand is a tough thing… State of Pay is the perfect platform to help facilitate more positive, optimistic conversations.”

It’s meant to be a marketing platform that allows Synchrony to share industry insights by partners, friends, customers and employees of Synchrony with retail executives and recognize companies doing innovative things to advance the industry as a whole.

For example, this week at ShopTalk, State of Pay interviewed Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business, who spoke from an academic perspective about experiential marketing and how retailers need to evolve to meet consumers’ changing expectations of what a company should provide in its experiences. Others in the business community who have joined State of Pay include Sih Lee, svp of payments technology and innovation at Synchrony, Tim Christiansen, svp of innovation and digital at Synchrony, Jamie Ianonne, CEO of Sam’s Club, Tina Sharkey, CEO of Brandless and Drew Green, CEO of Indochino.

“When we talk about partners we talk about businesses — large, medium and small retailers. How we market and support them is different from how we market to our consumers and tell stories to other constituents.”

Synchrony is best known as an issuer store-branded credit cards that retailers promote to customers at checkout to finance especially large purchases they can’t necessarily pay for, unless they open the credit card. Its partners are among the largest U.S. retailers — PayPal, Amazon, GAP, Walmart, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Lowe’s, T.J. Maxx, JCPenney, Sam’s Club.

Millennials’ credit behavior is confusing. On the surface it once made sense to think millennials were the credit-averse generation that was negatively influenced by the 2008 financial crisis, but Chase disproved that when it came out with Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has basically been a cultural phenomenon. Millennials are showing they’re not just ready and willing to use credit, they’re just as open to other financial innovations, like point-of-sale financing from firms like Affirm or Klarna.

Some brands have even replaced their private label credit cards with Affirm completely — like Motorola’s Comenity Bank-issued cards, for example — Ryan Metcalf, the company’s director of international markets recently told Tearsheet. Merchants have stopped using schemes like deferred interest promotions, which puts banks like Synchrony or Comenity at a disadvantage.

“We really identified a cultural need within a business community,” said Corbin Brown, director of strategy for marketing agency Giant Spoon, a partner on the project. “There’s so much opportunity at the intersection of commerce, payments, innovative technology and consumer behavior.”

In addition to Synchrony’s core business it also owns CareCredit, which provides financing solutions for elective medical and veterinary procedures, and has an online consumer bank, Synchrony Bank. In November, Synchrony also agreed to acquire $6.8 billion in loan receivables from PayPal and become the exclusive issuer of PayPal Credit, whose concept is similar to that of a store-branded credit card. For more than 80 years Synchrony operated as a subsidiary of GE Capital and spun off as a fully independent company in 2015.

Synchrony has 74.5 million active consumer accounts, Dixon said.

“Of course data is a big part of it,” Dixon added. “We know a lot about consumer behavior… [and] can help partners understand how they can better connect and engage with their customers.”

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