Aimia buys stake in Fractal Analytics

A minority stake could mean a major leg-up on the competition

Loyalty marketing and customer insights firm Aimia has formed a global partnership with Fractal Analytics, a data analysis company founded in India and headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Aimia says Fractal’s platform will help clients leverage their data to build unique and personal customer relationships. As part of the deal, the Montreal-based loyalty firm will buy an undisclosed minority stake in Fractal and gain access to its advanced marketing analytics, customer profiling and visual reporting software.

Eric Monteiro, Aimia’s chief of strategy and one of the architects of the deal, said that building out the company’s data analysis capabilities serves its long-term goal of restoring personal relationships in marketing and retail.

INow that we can work together, we can effectively build new products that leverage the best of their analytics capabilities and our loyalty and marketing expertise

Eric Monteiro, Aimia

Consumers feel nostalgia for a time when store owners knew and cared about them, but today “the average retail experience is completely impersonal,” Monteiro said. “Our view is that through data and technology, and in particular mobile, we can rebuild the personal connection between brands and consumers. We’re in the business of making that happen.”

But with so many consumers to know and understand, the best way to build relationships is through data and analytics, he said. Fractal’s technology analyzes a large volume of CRM, loyalty, contextual and audience segmentation data, and uses it to build profiles of customers, including their preferences and purchase intentions. Marketers can then use those profiles to personalize their messaging through e-mail, mobile apps, and in-store mobile beacons.

For Aimia, there are a host of opportunities to apply the technology directly by integrating it with existing loyalty and shopper marketing programs.

In a crowded market full of big analytics players like IBM, SAP and SAS, Fractal stood out to Aimia with its client-facing platform, which creates detailed, visual reports that marketers can immediately take action on.

“It’s very easy to think of [Fractal] as the insight engine, but it’s much more than that. It’s the whole end-to-end experience,” Monteiro said.

Founded in 2000, Fractal has 700 employees and 13 offices worldwide. In addition to Aimia, investment firm TA Associates also owns a minority stake, which it purchased for $25 million last year.

Analytics are “critical” to staying ahead in loyalty

In an era when consumers are bombarded with irrelevant messaging, loyalty marketing is about providing a unique and personalized experience that can actually sustain the customer’s attention. To stay ahead, loyalty firms have to provide consumers with relevance, and that means understanding customers.

To do that, they’re focusing on building out their analytics components. LoyaltyOne – whose Air Miles loyalty program competes directly with Aimia’s Aeroplan – has invested significantly in its analytics-focused subsidiary Precima to help it compete in the arena.

Meanwhile, technology companies like Adobe and SAP are pushing into personalized marketing and customer relationship management. Adobe’s Master Marketing Profile builds extremely granular profiles of customers, which can be used to send targeted offers and rewards of the kind Aimia specializes in.

In this increasingly competitive market, partnering with a technology company like Fractal gives Aimia an edge.

“We have a strong analytics proposition, but when we join with Fractal, we have an unbeatable marketing, loyalty and analytics proposition,” Monteiro said. “And we’ve actually seen that in in a few client situations, where the fact that we work together made the difference and got us the business.”

Aimia sees a major opportunity to build joint products with Fractal, combining the loyalty firm’s expertise in marketing with Fractal’s firm foundation in data science to build powerful, sophisticated solutions for marketers.

“Now that we can work together, we can effectively build new products that leverage the best of their analytics capabilities and our loyalty and marketing expertise,” Monteiro said. “We’re very excited about that.”

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