While I have your attention . . .


Share on LinkedIn

At the grocery store, I manage to pay little attention to the candy, the chilled bottles of soda, the magazines, and the short row of recent movie releases that crowd in at me as I place my purchases on the conveyor at checkout. It’s not that I don’t mind them being there, even though I know the motivation behind their location–these are, of course, enticements for impulse purchase. No, I pay little attention because they’re not particularly relevant to the reason I’m in that store. My mind is focused on barbecuing those racks of ribs right. Still, the store is banking on sparking an urge for sweets, an interest in a compelling headline I missed because I skipped the magazine aisle, or a thirst promoted by–what?–pushing all that food around in cart with a feisty wheel fighting me up and down the aisles?

The point is, the store has my attention as I’m negotiating point of sale, and is taking the opportunity to engage in a bit of commerce that you can’t quite call upsell or cross-sell, but more-sell.

The quick-service restaurant version is “Would you like fries with that?” and the airline version up to this point has been variations on “Would you like to upgrade a class?” (where they might give you the french fries for free), or “Would you like to buy a headset to watch the recent movie release?” But American Airlines has just introduced an interesting twist on the as-long-as-we-have-your-attention impulse buy. In a new program called AAdvantage Mileage Multiplier, passengers can tack bonus miles onto their frequent-flyer earnings, for a fee. Mileage purchase is hardly new to the industry–the twist here is this: you buy the miles when your attention is focused on the business at hand, when you’re not checking out, as in the grocery, but when you’re checking in.

AAdvantage Mileage Multiplier offers double or triple the miles you are about to earn for flying with American when you check in with the airline’s self-serve kiosk. For example, a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Miami would earn you 1,121 miles. For $34, you can double that mileage; for $68, you can triple it–to 3,363 miles total (with a 7.5% excise tax). Yes, we’re talking ancillary income, but there are other benefits to the program:

  • Immediacy. Flying is top of mind, since you’re physically about to engage in that activity. It is, ultimately, an impulse buy, with a different consumer buying pattern than that of a flyer who seeks to buy extra miles to achieve a specific threshold, likely with a specific flight in mind.
  • Relevance. Simply by being AAdvantagemembers, travelers have already demonstrated an interest in miles, so–unlike candy in the grocery store or fries at the burger stand, which they may or may not be interested in–the offer has built-in relevance.
  • Cost-reduction. The offer incents passengers to use self-serve, keeping costs down.

Am I now anticipating that I’ll soon be able to buy points at the local burger shack (and maybe get fries with them)? Well, not yet. I could, on the other hand, envision my grocer moving some of those DVDs and sweets to racks above the self-serve checkouts, and offering me as a member of their frequent-shopper club an instant on-screen discount for something on those racks–particularly if that something is an item I had purchased previously. For that matter, skip the sweets and populate those racks with frequently-moving staple purchases. “Half off on a package of toilet paper to your right, Mr. Brohaugh, if you grab it, scan it and add it to your purchase,” the auto-checkout screen might tell me. How many times have you walked out of a store, forgetting to restock something important. In brick-and-mortar environments, purchase data from your most profitable program members can dictate what those staples or preferred items might be. (And who knows, maybe my store’s data-mining says that best customers love the candy and the DVDs.

My ultimate point here is that good customer communications are direct, well-timed and relevant. Ask yourself, In cases when you have the customer’s attention, how can you deliver a better offer or experience that concentrates not on their interests, but on their focus.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and colloquy.com, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here