Loyalty management contributes greatly to customer satisfaction that ensures a market niche for any brand. Industry leader Aimia offers marketing solutions that transcend country, culture and language with cutting-edge data analytics enabling real-time customer engagement.
The foundation of the exchange is a thorough understanding of what customers value. "Rewarding customer loyalty appeals to a deeper level of human behaviour," says Rupert Duchesne, Aimia group CEO. "If you're continually accumulating wealth through a rewards programme, it locks you into a brand emotionally. This happens whether you're in Japan, China, Germany or the United States; loyalty works everywhere."
Aimia captured this insight with the use of intelligent algorithms. Moving early into loyalty analytics, the company started measuring consumer behaviour through frequent flyer programmes. Loyalty analytics fuelled the success of Air Canada's pioneering Aeroplan rewards programme. More than 4.6 million people use Aeroplan miles to engage with some 150 brands in the financial, retail and travel sectors.
Building on this success, Aimia is extending the loyalty cycle to retail stores, grocers, consumer product companies, financial institutions, oil firms and telecommunications firms. It is also reaching into the digital media space through coalition loyalty programmes such as Nectar, Britain's No 1, and Latin America's Club Premiere. Companies in coalition loyalty programmes broaden their base with a wide range of partnerships that build long-term value.
Investing about HK$380 million every year to continually harness loyalty analytics, Aimia has revolutionised the retail space with its Intelligent Shopper Solutions (ISS). Analysing the customer purchase history captured with every swipe of a rewards card, ISS helps vendors retain their customers with engaging offers as they shop. First implemented in Sainsbury's stores in Britain, ISS is at work in Coles Supermarkets in Australia, CVS Pharmacy in the US, Canada's Sobeys and Switzerland's Migros.
Aimia has succeeded in deploying ISS as a mobile phone application for Nectar members, who enjoy loyalty shopping in real time. Customisation is also within reach for television viewers, Duchesne says. The possibilities are endless, with ISS capabilities for shopper insight, promotional analysis, store planning, customer segmentation, member analytics, reward and partner optimisation and liability management.
With its equity stake in Cardlytics, a merchant-funded, transaction-driven solution offered in the US, Aimia is well positioned to capture the full spectrum of customer behaviour. Cardlytics feeds electronic banking patterns into the loyalty management loop.
Aimia also has decades of experience in designing and delivering proprietary loyalty programmes for some of the world's biggest brands. For example, Aimia packaged a proprietary programme for GM that allows the carmaker to disseminate online sales information to its dealerships through smartphones. AT&T's Talk Shop, a social networking site designed by Aimia for the telephone company's small business customers, is accessible via mobile devices. Proprietary loyalty solutions for Microsoft, Oracle, Citrix Systems and Delta Air Lines were also crafted by Aimia.
Aimia's goal is to help companies cement their customer franchise with measurable marketing. Companies can create a long-lasting exchange with their best customers using loyalty programmes due to the increase in consumer trust. This paves the way for better marketing investment returns because actual buying patterns rather than guesswork determine next steps.
"We have an extraordinary capability in using the data in a trusted environment to do smart things for companies and consumers. This is one of the reasons we've gone global so successfully and so quickly," Duchesne says.
Aimia's gross billings reached more than HK$4 billion during this year's first quarter.
The company is on track for turnover of HK$17 billion by the year's end. It is keen on taking loyalty management to its next stage in Asia, where pragmatic consumers are a potentially rich base for coalition rewards programmes among global brands.
Based in Singapore, Aimia's Asian operation covers eight cities in the region, including Hong Kong, Jakarta, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur, where it houses a sizeable operations hub. The company employs nearly 500 people across Asia-Pacific.
Aimia has had a presence in the region for more than 20 years and works with many of the region's largest banks. It is in talks with potential partners on the mainland in the banking, insurance, telecommunications and airline industries.
"Our challenge and opportunity is to find the right way to bring added value through the right partnership," Duchesne says.