Virgin eyes 20m with group customer loyalty scheme

virgin red smallerVirgin Group is launching one of the UK’s most ambitious loyalty strategies, designed to build a detailed picture of its estimated 20 million-plus group customer base and boost cross-selling between businesses.
The move represents a major expansion for customer marketing within the group, which currently only offers one loyalty programme in the UK, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
As well as air passengers, the Flying Club is available for Virgin Trains East Coast line passengers, who can also collect Nectar points. However, the new scheme – dubbed Virgin Red – will cover all UK Virgin companies, including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Active, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Experience Days, Virgin Balloon flights, Virgin Vouchers, Virgin Money and others.
Even some of the firms it has sold off, such as Virgin Media, are part of the programme.
According to an internal study carried out last year, the group’s six largest UK companies alone had about 14.5 million customers, however, only one in ten used more than one Virgin service. Virgin Red will aim to address this issue.
The main thrust of the programme is the Virgin Red app, trialled on the iPhone since the summer and now launched on Android, supported by a Facebook presence and Twitter activity. Combined they will be used to create the group’s first centralised customer database.
Launched under the premise of “see how we can make your day a little less ordinary, and a little more Virgin”, club members can collect extra points by doing a weekly challenge, playing a daily quiz, or trying to win a reverse auction.
This opens up the Virgin Red “Vault”, where members can gain access to discounts and promotions from group firms, as well as from a raft of partners; Ocado, Patisserie Valerie, and Official Pukka Herbs have already signed up. Virgin customers also get more points as a “little thank you”.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Virgin Group chief executive Josh Bayliss said customer data will remain locked inside each separate Virgin company, but Virgin Red will share high-level insights about group customers to help the companies better target their marketing efforts.
The loyalty scheme is limited to the UK, but is expected to be rolled out in other markets next year.
A spokeswoman told DecisionMarketing: “We’re a way for Virgin customers to get access to offers and opportunities from the Virgin brands and a selection of partners. Currently the points you earn on Red help you to unlock the Vaults but as we’re still quite a new project, we’re hoping to evolve how Red works over time based on customer feedback.”

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