In 2016, the New Zealand loyalty landscape experienced a shakeup like never. In the midst of a market cramped with change from competitors such as AA Smartfuel, New World Club Card, and Countdown Onecard, Air New Zealand launched the new Airpoints partner coalition.
This required the disestablishment of a previously standing partnership with Fly Buys. The two programmes then went head-to-head to acquire, retain and activate their members through a huge market shake-up – both with the same objective: to get new cards in members hands and ensure their loyalty programme became the programme of choice, consistently and repetitively.
So Airpoints made the choice easy by putting members first and fuelling an emotional connection with the brand. Air New Zealand created a comprehensive, integrated campaign designed to position Airpoints as the loyalty programme for all New Zealanders – where Airpoints Dollars are ‘Yours for the taking’ – resulting in a fundamental change to the loyalty landscape.
To succeed, it was critical to meet members where they were by understanding existing behaviours. As part of the campaign, direct communications at launch guided members through their first forays into unfamiliar Airpoints territory, in the way that the public has come to expect Air New Zealand to care for its customers.
Utilising member data to build out the best communication strategy for every individual (e.g. next-best partner recommendations) allowed members to be educated so no one ever needed to miss out on earning Airpoints Dollars. Programmatic technology helped facilitate this. The overlay of Airpoints’ first party data, previous campaign interactions, ATL/BTL touchpoints and retailer specific data delivered a pure member-led campaign, agnostic across publisher and device.
Air New Zealand faced many challenges during launch. Besides entering a mature, cluttered and confused market, they had to overcome previous perceptions of the brand only being a frequent flyer programme. In addition to retaining these existing members, they had to engage and activate new members and get them earning Airpoints Dollars. This was of course once they’d overcome the logistics hurdle of getting an Airpoints card into 1.8 million members hands in a timely, effective and organised manner.
Given the phenomenal results achieved, it looks like members have indeed voted with their cards. The judges commented, “Every five years or so an entry truly stands out in its category, and this is one of those unique entries.” Further they commented that the strength of the entry is in the overarching strategy- it's a big thought that has produced big results. “The challenge was to change ingrained loyalty behaviour on a large scale, and with a comprehensive marketing approach Air New Zealand persuaded many hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders to change their loyalty habits. This is a remarkable achievement.”
The campaign has had real impact both on the market and on the business, and impressed the judges with its ambition and execution. Airpoints has overcome a noisy landscape to successfully capture the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.