Aeroplan leads the innovation curve and stays ahead of the competition with SAS | SAS

Aeroplan leads the innovation curve and stays ahead of the competition with SAS®

Aeroplan provides business insights to its marketing team for member campaigns, but also supports 75 external partners representing 150 brands. Analysts work with data from multiple sources, but must produce reports and dashboards quickly in order to maintain Aeroplan's leadership in a highly competitive loyalty market. Aeroplan turned to SAS to improve speed to market and react quickly to changes in the business environment, helping to attract and retain partners and members.

Launched in 1984, Aeroplan is a Canadian loyalty coalition program owned by Groupe Aeroplan.  With a presence in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Groupe Aeroplan is leading expansions around the world. As part of the program, Aeroplan members can earn reward miles by traveling with Air Canada or a Star Alliance partner, by purchasing products from a retail partner or through the use of a cobranded financial card.

The company has a number of partners in the travel industry, including hotels and car rental agencies, and all airlines from the Star Alliance, an extensive global airline network. The program has evolved to include retail and financial partners; Aeroplan now works with 75 partners, which represent 150 brands.

"Aeroplan is all about data and how we leverage data for our partners and members," said Michel Girard, Director of Analytics with Aeroplan, who leads a team of 10 analysts. "The more data assets you have, the more you're able to leverage that data, and the more of a competitive edge you're going to gain in the market."

His team works with Aeroplan's internal marketing and innovation organization to develop campaigns for customer attraction and retention. But the team also uses analytics to demonstrate the value of the program to external partners.

While basic reporting was done through the company's corporate reporting platform, Aeroplan was looking to take that a step further. So when Girard started with the company, Aeroplan became a SAS shop almost immediately. "When it comes to innovation and showing data from different angles that are not prebuilt in our data warehouse, that's where we need SAS," he said.

Analysts may need to customize a report for a partner to demonstrate a new business concept, for example. Previously, they had to test this concept and put it into development and production, which could take weeks. "With SAS we can run it within days," said Girard. "It's a very efficient way to deliver information to our partners, and was a step forward in our reporting and insights capabilities.

We’ve been able to grow our insights base and grow our data assets only because SAS was there all the time to support the development of the team.

Michel Girard
Director of Analytics, Aeroplan

"SAS allows us to rapidly build specific data assets that the competition cannot replicate. We can combine our transactional data, panel data and third-party data into a SAS data mart or sandbox and make it available to our analysts, so they can leverage more information on members and partners that was not available before."

In one case, the team developed a vulnerability index to identify members who could be attracted by a new competitive offer coming to market. They used transactional data mixed with panel data to link attitudes and behavior and then build predictive models. They were able to use that index to identify the most vulnerable members and target them with a marketing campaign when the competitive offer launched. "It was a combination of good targeting, good promotion and good execution. The ROI on the campaign was multiple times the cost of the campaign," said Girard.

Aeroplan can now react faster to changes in the business environment. It can build predictive models and get a campaign up and running in two weeks – a process that used to take much longer. And it can produce reports in days instead of a week. "This is the kind of speed you need in the loyalty market these days, because there's loyalty competition all over the place. And we're dealing with partners that are facing a fierce competitive market," said Girard.

Aeroplan delivers dashboards to partners that can be uploaded on their websites. A store manager, for example, could see how many Aeroplan members are shopping into the store, how much they're spending and how that has evolved over time. This information supports partners' initiatives, which ultimately benefits Aeroplan members who are always looking for more ways to earn reward miles.

"SAS is an enabler. It enables our team to grow, to progress and to better service the organization. We've been able to grow our insights base and grow our data assets only because SAS was there all the time to support the development of the team," said Girard. "Otherwise I don't think that we would be able to maintain the level of productivity that we're able to now. Simply put, SAS is at the core of what we do. It's so much a part of our DNA that you just can't take it away – it's impossible."

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Aeroplan is required to provide analytic insights to its internal marketing organization, as well as 75 partners representing 150 brands.


Using SAS, Aeroplan can customize reports in days instead of weeks, and have marketing campaigns up and running within two weeks.


Aeroplan is able to retain and attract new customers and partners, stay ahead of the competitive curve and increase its level of productivity through the use of SAS.

The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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