Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.
Understanding affinity marketing
This form of marketing involves a brand collaborating with a related (but non-competing) brand to offer products, services, or benefits that are suitable for each brand’s respective target audience. Marketing efforts carry the branding of both businesses, with each able to access a new market of prospective buyers.
Affinity marketing best practices
To ensure the partnership is beneficial for both parties, it can be helpful to consider these best practices:
- Choose the right partner – an obvious point, but one that is worth explaining further. Companies should always vet potential partners according to whether they share similar values, customers, or possess products that could be considered complementary.
- Ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial – for the partnership to work, both companies must contribute in unison to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes. In a situation where the partnership is lop-sided or worse still, one-sided, it will be impossible to keep the disadvantaged company interested.
- Define roles – like any partnership, it is also important to define roles and responsibilities from the outset to avoid confusion and potential conflict later. Two companies that want to create a product, for example, must discuss who is responsible for manufacturing and who will market and sell the product.
- Focus on communication – in the context of affinity marketing, effective communication means collaborative decision-making in real-time. In many cases, the two brands will require shared access to files and other important assets throughout the campaign. Partner relationship management (PRM) software can be used to onboard partners, protect stored assets, and track sales, among other things.
Affinity marketing examples
In this section, let’s take a look at some affinity marketing examples:
- Disney and Lyft – to help families move around the Walt Disney World resort, Disney partnered with Lyft to create the Disney Minnie Van™ Service. Families can book a ride on the service by using the Lyft app while within the bounds of the resort itself.
- Chase and British Airways – American credit card company Chase partnered with British Airways to launch a branded British Airways Visa card to its customers. Individuals can use the card to collect the Avios reward currency which can then be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and car rental.
- Red Bull and GoPro – with both brands geared toward adventure and extreme sports, affinity marketing was also used to great effect by Red Bull and GoPro. Red Bull once sponsored an attempt to skydive from a balloon, with the diver wearing a GoPro camera to record the action. The two brands continue to enjoy an enduring partnership where GoPro cameras are used in Red Bull sports events such as the Red Bull Rampage mountain bike competition.
- Amazon and Whole Foods: Amazon, through its acquisition of Whole Foods, offers Prime members special discounts and benefits when shopping at Whole Foods stores. This partnership combines Amazon’s e-commerce prowess with Whole Foods’ physical grocery locations.
- Coca-Cola and McDonald’s: Coca-Cola beverages are prominently featured at McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. This long-standing partnership leverages the strengths of both brands in the fast-food industry.
- Spotify and Starbucks: Starbucks customers can influence the in-store music playlist through the Starbucks app, which is powered by Spotify. This partnership enhances the overall Starbucks experience and promotes Spotify’s music streaming service.
- American Express and Airbnb: American Express cardholders can earn reward points by booking accommodations on Airbnb. This collaboration encourages American Express customers to use Airbnb for their travel needs.
- Nike and Apple: Nike and Apple have partnered to create products like the Nike+ Apple Watch and Nike Training Club app. These products combine fitness tracking technology with Nike’s athletic wear, enhancing the workout experience.
- Marriott Bonvoy and Uber: Marriott’s loyalty program, Bonvoy, allows members to earn points for using Uber rides. This partnership incentivizes travelers to choose Marriott hotels and use Uber for transportation.
- Delta Airlines and Lyft: Delta SkyMiles members can earn miles for using Lyft for airport transportation. This partnership benefits both frequent flyers and Lyft users.
- Starbucks and Visa: Starbucks and Visa launched a co-branded credit card that offers rewards like Starbucks stars for purchases made outside Starbucks stores. This partnership extends the Starbucks experience beyond coffee shops.
- REI and Subaru: Outdoor retailer REI partners with Subaru to offer exclusive discounts to REI Co-op members on Subaru vehicles. This collaboration caters to outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers.
- Gap and (RED): Gap has partnered with the (RED) organization to create a line of clothing and accessories where a portion of the proceeds goes to the fight against AIDS. This partnership combines fashion with philanthropy.
- HBO and Game of Thrones: HBO partnered with various brands to create limited-edition Game of Thrones merchandise, such as Oreos with themed packaging and Johnnie Walker whiskey with special labels. This leverages the popularity of the TV series for product promotion.
- Macy’s and Make-A-Wish Foundation: Macy’s has a long-standing partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. During the holiday season, Macy’s donates a portion of sales from specific items to help grant wishes to children with critical illnesses.
- Pampers and UNICEF: Pampers partners with UNICEF for their “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” campaign. For every pack of Pampers purchased, a portion of the proceeds goes toward vaccinating mothers and babies against maternal and neonatal tetanus.
- Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.
- Affinity marketing best practices include choosing the right partner, focusing on communication, defining roles and responsibilities, and ensuring the partnership is mutually beneficial at all times.
- Affinity marketing has been used in partnerships between Disney and Lyft, Chase and British Airways, and an enduring arrangement between Red Bull and GoPro.
Key Highlights of Affinity Marketing:
- Definition: Affinity marketing is a collaborative partnership between two or more businesses aimed at selling more products or services. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement where each brand leverages the other’s reach and credibility.
- Mutual Partnership: Affinity marketing is often referred to as co-marketing or partnership marketing because it involves brands working together. These collaborations target products, services, or benefits that are relevant to each brand’s target audience.
- Brand Collaboration: In affinity marketing, both brands participate in marketing efforts, and the branding of both businesses is prominently featured. This allows each brand to access a new market of potential customers.
- Best Practices:
- Choose the Right Partner: Brands should carefully select partners with similar values, customer bases, or complementary products to ensure a successful partnership.
- Mutual Benefit: Both companies should contribute equally to deliver outcomes that benefit each party. Imbalanced partnerships are unlikely to be sustainable.
- Define Roles: Clear roles and responsibilities should be defined from the beginning to prevent confusion and conflicts. This is especially important in co-creating products or services.
- Effective Communication: Effective communication is essential in affinity marketing. Collaborative decision-making, shared access to assets, and partner relationship management tools can help facilitate communication.
- Affinity Marketing Examples:
- Disney and Lyft: Disney partnered with Lyft to offer the Disney Minnie Van™ Service within the Walt Disney World resort, catering to families visiting the park.
- Chase and British Airways: Chase collaborated with British Airways to launch a branded credit card that allows users to collect Avios reward currency for flights, hotels, and car rentals.
- Red Bull and GoPro: Red Bull and GoPro, both associated with adventure and extreme sports, have collaborated on various projects, such as recording skydiving attempts and using GoPro cameras in Red Bull sports events like the Red Bull Rampage mountain bike competition.
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