Enjoy the perfect view

3D in film is enjoying a massive resurgence at the moment. Indeed, Disney-Pixar’s 3D opus Up recently made history as the first animated film to open this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And why not? It’s always better to get the full picture in whatever we do.

It’s no different in marketing communications and this is where the fusing together of market research and customer database insights can make a great difference in terms of the way you see things. Customer databases provide detailed information about individual customer behaviour which can be invaluable in driving personalised CRM communications.

However, this provides a limited perspective, tracking only customer interactions with the brand that owns the database. Adding in market research can put a very different complexion on the customer as you can view the wider context in which interactions take place.

For example, we carried out a database segmentation on an airline’s frequent fliers which revealed eight distinct segments, with the extent and nature of flyers’ airline patronage varying wildly. The segmentation insights were instrumental in tailoring CRM communications to engender higher frequency flying and greater usage of profitable premium cabins. The greater relevance led to marketing campaigns generating a very healthy ROI.

However, focus research was then carried out among members of the segments to provide a more holistic view of their overall business flying across all airlines. This revealed a previously undiscovered dimension of behaviour which transformed our thinking regarding the way in which frequent flier programmes (FFPs) influence airline choice.

We discovered that FFP members saw the reward of points, redeemable against personal flights, as an important work benefit, and they had an interesting way of capitalising on this. They understood that rewards increased if they reached Silver or Gold status as they would be given a higher points earn rate. They also knew that long-haul flights were rewarded with generous quantities of points, but they travelled long haul much less frequently.

This meant that members tended to give all their short haul flights to the airline which enabled them to achieve Silver or Gold status more quickly. The obliging airline would then also receive the profitable long-haul business class flights, so even more airmiles could be earned.

The strategic implications of these findings were huge. Many of our client’s low-value members were never going to reach Silver status as the airline’s schedule simply couldn’t meet their short-haul flying needs efficiently. Any communications incentivising short haul to these members were therefore throwing money away.

However, offering incentives on the less frequent, but highly lucrative, long-haul journeys was far more effective. Conversely, it became clear that defending frequent short haul fliers against competitors who offered real alternatives was a vital tool in protecting the profitable long-haul trade.

Hence, the two disciplines worked together. Without research this behaviour would never have been uncovered; without the database, exploiting the opportunity would not have been possible.

Figuratively-speaking, we had been given a brand new pair of 3D glasses.

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