case studies

Travel and Leisure Case Study: CAA Atlantic


The Atlantic division of the Canadian Automobile Association has provided emergency roadside assistance, travel services and insurance products for more than 100 years. It currently serves over 190,000 members in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland—roughly one fifth of all households in its market.


CAA Atlantic has used EA data and analytics to increase its membership, move into new markets and enhance its brand perception beyond roadside rescue. But with costs rising and response rates declining, the organization needed to be more cost-effective in attracting the most engaged members who’d bring the most value to the organization. “We wanted to fully integrate analytics in all of our marketing, communications and sales channels,” says Gary Howard, Vice President of Communications at CAA Atlantic. “With costs going up, we knew we had to be smarter about our target marketing.”


To create a framework to categorize members by their value to the CAA, the organization first needed to learn more about their members and their interaction with the group. Using PRIZM lifestyle clusters, analysts first assigned members to one of five custom lifestyle-based target groups with names like 5-Diamond Families (well-off established families with children of all ages), Suburban Bliss (blue-collar families with children living at home) and Urban Explorers (up-and-coming Gen X and Y singles and couples). But rather than focus on how each group had used the club in the past, analysts projected their potential use in the future. They then focused their marketing efforts on improving each group’s propensity for membership and engagement. This forward-thinking approach allowed CAA Atlantic to prioritize members for future programs and establish guidelines governing the quantity and quality of direct mailings. The club even created a “quality index” to track its monthly efforts at engaging members.


Having defined its five target groups, CAA Atlantic began to apply their profiles in product programming, aligning partnerships, prospecting for travellers and differentiating communications by channel and creative. Its “Go Girl” print campaign, for instance, targeted 28- to 35-year-old women by offering a fresh twist on a classic image: a woman’s well-toned legs—instead of a grease monkey’s—sticking out from under a car as she works on the engine. “As If!” the headline reads. “A CAA Membership is more than just your grandmother’s TripTiks® and roadside assistance.” The group also used data-based customer insights to develop partner promotions with groups like Circle K and XM Satellite Radio and plan media buys—down to selecting which newspaper page to run an ad promoting Disney vacations. And after every campaign, the group conducted a detailed response analysis. In Gary Howards’ words, “We test, we measure, we learn, we adjust, and then we start over again.” And by sharing the results with other departments, his team helped everyone improve. As one analyst observed, “Data analytics are now in the water at CAA Atlantic.” As a result, costs are down and member engagement is up.