Credit cards, loyalty and you


Ever wonder just how loyalty programs choose customers to target for various promotions and offers? Thanks to credit card companies some of that targeting is being handled outside of the program and fed back in to the brands. And the level of detail might surprise you. Presenting at the Loyalty 2015 conference this week in Istanbul, Luke Pollard from MasterCard Advisors spoke about the capabilities that company has and the massive depth and breadth of data available for analysis.

mastercard-360-viewPollard presented the services of MasterCard Advisors as a means to extend the data analytics most loyalty programs already run. Yes, the loyalty program can internally track spending patterns and trends but to get the bigger picture partners are needed. As Pollard noted, “We see what people are spending when they’re not with you.” And that sort of detail is an important aspect of retaining the correct existing customers and identifying new customers to target for acquisition.

Two of the examples Pollard discussed in the aviation loyalty space – completely different types of carriers in different markets seeking different outcomes – speak to the value of this data. A full service European carrier was trying to increase its business class market share. It leaned on MasterCard to run a set of queries matching passengers it knows about to other purchase behaviors. One of the matches which came back was a disproportionately high spend on luxury clothing stores. And, while it might not be completely reasonable to expect that the luxury retail merchants would want to partner with an airline loyalty program in this case it worked out. The partnership was launched based in large part on the airline being able to show the overlapping customer segments to the retail operator.

Read More: Marketing emails getting a lot more personal

Another use case was a US-based LCC looking for information on which Caribbean and Latin America markets had high value demand from its customers on other carriers. And then it launched promotions targeting the top 20% of travelers, a group which represented 50% of the spend in those markets.

Yes, the data in these cases is limited to only what MasterCard has access to from its massive card base. But similar information is also compiled and sold by Visa and MasterCard.

And this sort of data aggregation and analysis is the type of thing I love. It can also get a bit creepy if it becomes too targeted, something the airlines have been working to balance for some time now. But it mostly works and I fully expect to see more of it in the future. After all, you’re a great data point just waiting to be queried and studied. Because there is big money to be made on that information.

See more stories from the Loyalty 2015 conference here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

One Comment

  1. You’re right about it getting too creepy if it’s too targeted. Remember the girl who got Target coupons for diapers? I love how her dad stormed in to the local store, demanding to know how they knew she was pregnant.

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