Developing a Marketing Strategy for National Railcards



Developing a Marketing Strategy for National Railcards

Authors

J Taylor, J Segal, C Pownall, MVA Consultancy, UK; D Mapp, A Robertson, Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), UK

Description

Research was undertaken to understand perceptions of the Young Persons, Family and Senior Railcards amongst those eligible. These results fed into a revenue model which has been used to inform the future Railcard marketing strategy.

Abstract

The Young Persons Railcard, Family Railcard and Senior Railcard have been available for many years on Britain?s railways, with an upfront cost of £20 for the Railcard allowing a 34% discount on rail travel for one year subject to certain restrictions. The Railcards are known to generate off-peak travel, and therefore expanding their take-up can create additional off peak revenue and use up spare capacity on the railways.

The optimum formulation of the Railcards has never been analysed. In-depth customer research was undertaken, including stated preference to value the different attributes of the products, in order to identify product and brand improvements that will drive sales and increase revenue.

In this paper we present quantitative findings from this research which is being used to drive a marketing strategy and changes to the Railcard formulations. The research consisted of four sets of surveys carried out on those who are eligible for the Railcards:
 Focus groups were held to discuss Railcard satisfaction, awareness, brand perceptions and image;
 On-train surveys were undertaken across Great Britain to profile Railcard holders compared to eligible non-holders;
 Telephone interviews were held to obtain feedback on a range of different topics including awareness of Railcards, satisfaction with Railcards, and reaction to potential changes to the product formulation or purchasing channels; and
 Stated preference surveys were undertaken to understand travellers? responses to potential for changes in the price or discount offered by the Railcard. Attributes considered in the stated preference were price, discount, years of validity, purchasing channels, minimum fare, ticket type and time restrictions.

A revenue model was created for each of the three Railcards, based on the respondents in the on-train survey and using the results from the stated preference survey, to estimate the revenue that would be generated with different formulations of Railcard.

The research concluded that although the Railcards were not perceived as having a brand identity, they had a high brand utility value and attract considerable customer loyalty. To grow the customer base, marketing initiatives should focus on increasing basic product awareness among eligible non-purchasers, correcting false awareness over eligibility particularly among Family Railcard and Young Persons Railcard potential purchasers, and focusing on first-time purchases among the rail-inexperienced. In order to maximise revenue, it was recommended that some of the restrictions on the Railcards should be removed, with limited increases in other restrictions, and an overall standardisation across Railcards.

Publisher

Association for European Transport