Canon Loyalty Program Yields Sharper Images of Customers

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A loyalty program for Canon USA Inc.'s Imaging Systems Group has expanded the database by more than 30 percent annually while providing a more cohesive view of the group's customer base.


The Imaging Systems Group sells printers, fax machines, high-end copiers and multifunction business systems through a U.S.-based network of hundreds of dealers. The division is a $3 billion enterprise and is the largest unit for Canon USA, Lake Success, NY.


The loyalty program, which began a year and a half ago, aims to get the dealers to share their customer data with Canon. It feeds Canon's centralized marketing data warehouse, which was created more than three years ago. At that time, the company had little customer information, only data from warranty cards and some internal sales promotions. The data it did have was unorganized.


"All of our data and information [were siloed] in various product marketing organizations, databases and lists throughout the company prior to the data warehouse, so we had no central view of common customer data," said David Hughes, manager, database marketing for the group.


And because the group relies on its dealer community to sell its products, the company did not have access to much end-user customer information.


Through the loyalty program, the database has grown to contain hundreds of thousands of individual customer files. The database is populated with information such as customer names, addresses, e-mail addresses, type of company and type of product purchased.


Essentially, the program lets dealers target customers with database-driven, industry-specific direct mail programs and fully integrated marketing programs through Canon USA's headquarters. In return, dealers securely share their customer lists with Canon. Canon then uses the customer data to populate its data warehouse.


Canon designs, produces and sends the direct mail or e-mail programs. The campaigns generally promote products the customer already has as well as new Canon products.


One direct mail campaign Canon launched last year dubbed "Fast Lane" promoted Canon's Color imageRUNNER c3200, a color multifunction digital business system. The mailer was part of an integrated campaign that included print ads in major publications with the same creative. The mailer went to 200,000 customers that already owned the previous generation of a similar product.


Another piece, dubbed "Color," focused on the fact that imageRUNNER c3200 offered "more color, more versatility, more functionality." It also targeted customers based on their profile and workflow patterns.


The dealers' names feature prominently on all mail pieces, even though they do not participate in the programs "from a cost or resource standpoint," Hughes said.


Mail pieces are customized by customer profiles. Some customers might get a message every few months while others may get more than one per month.


The centralized approach of the program lets Canon present a cohesive brand message to customers.


"What we all hate is when companies we do business with talk to us as if they don't do business with us," Hughes said. "They have different advertising messages and different looks, and they are not tying together as a theme. This program changes that."


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