Personalized marketing a cocktail for success
Canadian liquor retailer targets individual customers on a mass scale to boost engagement
The cool thing is, the more they use Inspire, the more personalized the offers become.
customers satisfaction rate
For most people, drinking is a social activity. But for Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), it’s personal – thanks to personalized marketing capabilities from SAS.
Founded in 1921, Quebec’s government-owned liquor retailer serves up alcohol to 5 million customers across the province. Without competition, the Can $3.1 billion retailer doesn’t need a loyalty program. But its customers felt otherwise.
“They were asking why we didn’t reward them for purchases like other retailers do,” says Dominique Bonin, Director of Business Intelligence and Consumer Insights at SAQ. “This set us down a path to personalization which has changed the course of our business.”
Nurturing customer relationships with personalized offers
Two months after SAQ launched its loyalty program, Inspire, it had 1.2 million members. Today, it’s 3.7 million. What began with the lure of points for purchases has become an effective intelligence and communication tool, signaling SAQ’s evolution into a data-driven company.
But you have to know the past to understand the present. Like many retailers, SAQ previously relied on mass marketing channels like television and print advertising to market its booze to customers. Hate gin? Too bad, you’re seeing the same gin ad as everyone else.
Furthermore, the company’s analytics workforce, which was spread out across the organization and focused mostly on reporting, lacked the technology and skills for personalization.
We’ve always been a data-driven company, but mostly around KPIs Dominique Bonin Director of Business Intelligence and Customers Insights SAQ
With Inspire cards flying out the door, the 20-year veteran saw an opportunity to capitalize on the growing amount of customer insight. SAQ invested in a customer intelligence solution based on the SAS® Platform to deliver a personalized shopping experience at scale. Suddenly, Bonin and her team were able to marry transactional data with internal and external customer data to get a complete picture of each customer’s buying habits.
“Finally, we could see what they buy, where they buy, how often they buy, and start to build one-on-one relationships around that insight,” she says.
Customer satisfaction reaches all-time high
United behind the SAS Platform, SAQ’s analysts and data scientists – who previously used a hodgepodge of analytical tools and techniques – gained access to a suite of powerful SAS solutions to deliver a better customer experience.
SAS Model Manager and SAS® Enterprise Miner™ drive the personalization efforts, enabling all targeting and A/B testing of promotions. The retailer also uses SAS Visual Analytics to track Inspire’s ROI and deliver performance metrics across the business.
With personalization at the heart of its operations, SAQ has dialed back on mass promotion in favor of an exceptional brand experience. The retailer now crafts personalized messages revolving around the customer’s purchase history to deliver highly relevant offers across its marketing channels.
Particularly popular is its weekly newsletter, received by 1.6 million subscribers. The email gets rave reviews for its hyper-personalized content and product offers targeting individual members. Within this framework, someone could conceivably get an offer no one else gets.
Today, 66 percent of customers check their weekly offers, with 88 percent believing the offers are made just for them. And Inspire cards are swiped more than ever: 61 percent of transactions come from cardholders, representing 70 percent of total sales.
All this adds up to a record-high customer satisfaction rate: 94 percent of customers say they’re satisfied with their shopping experience.
“The cool thing is, the more they use Inspire, the more personalized the offers become,” says Bonin, who tweaks the algorithm weekly to optimize performance.
Société des alcools du Québec Taps SAS for Improved Customer Experience
Dominique Bonin of SAQ BI and Customer Insights describes how SAS has helped improve the customer experience by targeting the right product, to the right consumer, at the right time.
Adding a splash of artificial intelligence
Bonin now oversees the company’s entire analytics portfolio, a strategic move that has sped uplift and enabled a slew of new data-driven services.
For example, SAQ now offers private wine imports on its website after analysis revealed enough customers were importing wine independently. Additionally, customers are encouraged to present their Inspire cards to in-store advisors to get personalized product recommendations. Love Shiraz? Try this Petit Verdot.
With the number of data programs mounting, Bonin strives to ensure all team members are well-versed in SAS to continue making good on their analytics investment.
“One thing we appreciate about SAS is all the training programs,” Bonin says. “Everybody who joins my team follows the same training path to ensure we all have the same foundation of knowledge.”
Success with analytics has inspired SAQ to look at new ways of enhancing the customer experience with technology.
“We’re doing great things now, but we have bigger aspirations,” Bonin says. “We’re testing artificial intelligence and looking at things like advanced analytics and customer mapping. If it benefits the customer, we’ll give it a shot.”
Facts & Figures
Inspire was launched
total sales from cardholders