Loyalty Card Marketing Meets Location Intelligence - InformationWeek

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7/27/2009
07:42 AM
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Loyalty Card Marketing Meets Location Intelligence

Chockstone visualizes sales patterns and marketing returns at Subway and other quick-serve restaurants.

Region Map
Chockstone reports on location-specific market penetration and use of loyalty cards at Subway
Best customers spend more money and buy more frequently. That's the simple truth behind the growing use of loyalty card programs to track buying patterns and reward frequent customers. To spread the programs it develops for chains such as Subway, Chili's and Tully's Coffee, gift and loyalty card marketer Chockstone, a Heartland Payment Systems Company, is using data visualization and location intelligence to grow its business and prove its success.

Loyalty programs have been around for years, but they've become more sophisticated as they have grown. The punch cards of old have been replaced by prepaid loyalty cards powering purchases as well as personalized rewards. At Subway, for instance, a customer using a loyalty card to buy lunch will receive an instant point update on the printed receipt along with notice of rewards such as a free cookie, a discount or bonus points. Of course, the rewards invariably provide incentives to return to Subway for another meal.

Magnetic stripe card technology ensures a data-rich environment with aggregated information on everything from purchase recency, frequency and monetary value to menu preferences and location transaction information. But until 2007, Chockstone was limited to SQL querying, basic graphing and primitive mapping of data in its MySQL loyalty database.

"We're a Mac shop, and I was using [Visio-like] OmniGraffle to create presentations and reports," says Brandon O'Brien, Chockstone's manager of loyalty marketing analytics. "If we had a few stores in a particular state that had signed on for a loyalty program, we would just color in the whole state. But our loyalty programs are typically elective for franchise owners, so they are not at every store."

To support more sophisticated analysis and mapping, O'Brien started using Tableau Desktop 3.5 data visualization software in late 2007. As a starting point, the upgrade enabled O'Brien to display the latitude and longitude of participating stores as dots on maps. But with Tableau's 4.0 upgrade in August 2008, the location-intelligence possibilities grew even richer.

"Tableau 4.0 added GIS [Geographic Information Systems] overlays, so I can zoom in and do a population-by-county overlay," O'Brien explains. "The software also automatically geocodes locations by zip code, and in markets such as New York City, where there might be five locations within one zip code, I can geocode and color code each individual location."

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