A little over a week ago, consultancy Analysys Mason hosted a webinar entitled ‘Mobile loyalty schemes: best practice examples and key learnings’. Zeitgeist listened in…
Speaking in the webinar were Tom Rebbeck and Helen Kapapandzic. One of the key messages in the webinar was the distinction between customer retention and true loyalty campaigns. Retention can be achieved through short-term measures (e.g. discounts), loyalty is about longer-term investment. Keeping a customer loyal can benefit both the business and also the end user. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal referenced by the consultancy, there are myriad benefits to longevity at work, in marriage and by staying with the same providers and businesses. Loyalty it was noted, however, can only support other elements of a service that must already be in place.
For telcos, the key is in reconciling operator wants with customer needs. In the telecoms market in the Western world, where seemingly everyone has a mobile handset of one sort or another, the strategy has moved from winning new customers to keeping current ones. The market is saturated with a flat if not slightly falling rate of growth.
Churn is likely to increase this year over last year in the UK, but not in France. When Zeitgeist asked the reason for this disparity, he was told the reason was that telcos in the French market had focused a significant amount of marketing specifically on decreasing churn. In the UK, the increase is due to the beginning of the expiration of 24-month contracts (such as those affiliated with iPhones), which conversely made churn decline in 2010.
The webinar continued with a roundup of some selected case studies currently being employed by telcos around the world. These took the form of either financial or social-based schemes, and sometimes both. Aircel, for example, was an invitation-only service, offering special invitations to events, exclusive offers, and worked on a points-based system. Proximus seemed to be the most fun offer mentioned, focused as it was on younger customers, who would always be incentivised as there was always a prize guaranteed.
Vodafone’s loyalty scheme, with sponsorship of Formula 1 racing and the London Fashion Weekend, is deservedly well-known. With a simple thank you, and no requirements to join, it serves as an attractive loyalty tool. The loyalty scheme from Starhub seemed to be one of the most innovative and well-developed, a Quintessentially-esque programme, replete with triple play offers.
While it is tempting to think of customer loyalty schemes for telcos as similar in construction to those of supermarkets, the reality is in fact very different, as the consultancy pointed out. Tesco’s enormously popular Clubcard, as recently written about in The Economist, is there for the business to get as much information as possible on customer buying habits, to the extent that it could effect your insurance policy. Telcos already have a significant amount of data that illustrates user behaviour based on a much smaller range of products (SMS, data).
Those schemes that didn’t work, which the team at Analsys Mason came across, were ones involving points-based schemes that were extremely complicated, and might involve getting out an Excel spreadsheet. This kind of thing can be too time-consuming, and ultimately appeal to customers who are already loyal. As a trend, some operators were discontinuing points in preference of social, or simply overlaying it to create social engagement. Of course, as we all know, the key to a successful B2C campaign is often about personalisation. The difficulty though lies in the fact that it is usually easier to measure top-up schemes than emotional ones. This, however, does not alter the importance of personalisation. Rewards to drive tenure, celebrate anniversary of contracts or personal birthdays are all small touches which could be much more widely employed, said those at Analysys Mason.
In all it was an engrossing and stimulating lecture on consumer preferences, technological development and trends in communication. Zeitgeist looks forward to the next one.
From the Winter 2009 Zeitgeist…
Zeitgeist face such an alarming amount of numbers, facts, figures and statistics every day that sifting through it all to find the relevant information has become something of a fine art. Did you know mobile advertising is up almost as much as newspaper is down (18.1% and 18.7%, respectively)? Wikipedia currently features over 13 million articles, (though as reported recently in Le Monde, the rate of growth is slowing). Did you know the average US teen sends 2,272 texts a month, that Nokia manufactures thirteen cell phones every second, that 93% of Americans own a mobile, but a third donʼt yet feel comfortable paying for items with it?
These sorts of facts can help prognosticators look to the near future with a vague certainty toward upcoming trends. However, Zeitgeist is not satisfied with merely peering into the near future. We are always looking beyond the horizon, into the depths of futurology.
Who would have predicted that space exploration would have precipitated the creation of digital hearing aids and cancer detection devices? Who would have predicted that a little-known DoD agency created in a knee-jerk reaction to the launch of Sputnik, would stumble across a way of communicating between computers that would develop into the Internet we know and love today? DARPA lists many of the projects it is currently working on, which aside from their military uses might also have intriguing applications for consumers in the future. Chemical robots that are able to change size and shape in order to fit into different areas and perform different functions and nano air vehicles “less than 7.5cm in size” are some of the more fascinating things in development. Programmable matter could see brand comms with manipulative particles that ʻrememberʼ their position. Paint on your walls could change to a Guinness hue at happy hour. Micro power sources would give client Duracell new avenues of energy storage to explore, and tiny micro air vehicles could be sent anywhere to project video imagery or augmented reality functionality for a product.
Yet, as The Economist points out, despite manifest amounts of consumer products that are military derivatives, “lately some kinds of technology have been moving in the other direction, too”. Drones plaguing neʼer do wells in Pakistan are piloted using modified X-box controllers (it helps if the video feed is protected, however). Moreover, “soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are using Apple iPods and iPhones to run translation software and calculate bullet trajectories”. While the military has an enormous budget for R&D, little is invested in electronics, hence why the USAF recently bought 2,200 PS3s to form a super-computer. Zeitgeist has already placed an order for a nano air vehicle from GE.
From the November Zeitgeist…
If the absurd film 300 is anything to go by, men have been shaving their chests and enjoyed taking part in vaguely homoerotic activities for some time. They also seem to have spoken loudly, decisively and dramatically about all manner of things, no matter their import. How different is the man of today? Does he still shave his chest and communicate with declarative statements to no one in particular? Does he need to be reassured by campaign’s such as Ogilvy’s recent entry for Dove that debuted at the SuperBowl?
In the US, Unilever is currently trying to convince men to use a body lotion. After a quick 15-minute workout in which former NFL player Michael Strahan demonstrates working out in a hotel room before smothering Vaseline body lotion over himself; “It takes just 15 seconds for stronger, more resilient skin.” The point is not to convey effeminate qualities in what until now, has clearly been a female-driven domain, but rather to show that a cream can be related to high performance for demanding men. Vaseline research showed that 17% of men “used body lotion at least once a week”, which is more than might have been guessed.
So, while one marketing tone of voice tells us to take care of ourselves in increasingly unexpected ways, another, Maxim, pushes us toward a different direction; “Using too many products makes you a girl”, the magazine dictates. It remains to be seen how playing on tenets of performance and durability will affect sales of products of these kinds in the long-term. The New York Times article on the subject also mentions that Niveaʼs idea of putting their body lotion in the menʼs aisle was not a successful one.
There seems to be no apparent cachet for such a placement. Is this because women do the shop for men and donʼt venture to the menʼs aisle, or is it because men feel comfortable borrowing the products of their partner confident that it works just as well on his skin as hers? Or maybe men donʼt think or want to think about such beauty products in the retail environment. In Paris and Rome, it would be hard for a man to escape a kiss from a male colleague when greeted. For most men in the UK, however, the act ranks somewhere alongside the activities of Caligula.
Reuters however recently reported on an increasingly prevalent inclination in UK men in their teens and early 20s to end texts to each other with a kiss. 75% “regularly [end] texts with a kiss and 48% admitting the practice had become commonplace amongst their group of friends”. Is the prudish, self-aware man becoming more emotive? Ironically it is only in a non-verbal way, for the moment. If a man can be more open with his feelings, he might be more willing to confess his use of cosmetic products, removing any notion of taboo about the subject. If people feel more comfortable discussing such things in the virtual world, social networks would appear to be a convenient place for network effects to take hold…