Affinity marketing is a type of direct marketing in which a business forms a partnership with an organization to provide goods or services in exchange for access to a new market. In this type of campaign, two parties – the affinity group (made up of people linked by a common interest or goal) and the business providing the group with a product or service – link their brands in a mutually beneficial way.
With affinity marketing, the business providing the product or service gains new customers by capturing a larger audience. The opposite of competitive marketing, affinity marketing aims to boost brand loyalty and market awareness of products and services for all involved parties.
Businesses that team up with affinity groups might vary in size and focus. Affinity groups include unions, sports teams, non-profits and charities, and companies that focus on specific demographics. The groups typically have a strong connection with a large number of consumers who potentially can be targeted more easily than by way of a traditional marketing process.
Two business organizations also can be affinity partners. In a partnership between a grocery store and a bank, shoppers might receive offers to open a credit card in the store. The bank’s goal might be to increase its market share and improve its branding while the store might be looking to boost customer loyalty by offering a reward program with a new credit card. Hotels and airlines often forge similar partnerships with financial institutions.
Affinity marketing offers a perceived reduction of risk for group members who might sign up for an insurance policy, for instance, if other members of the group are doing so, or customers might sign up for an offer if it came from an alumni association or credit card company. In some cases, there might also be a perception that the group has buying power or that members of certain groups (i.e., teachers, police, etc.) should get a good price for something.
To ensure an effective affinity partnership, marketing teams need to focus on finding the right partner with complementary, but non-competitive, offerings and access to the company’s target market audience. Additionally, affinity marketing campaigns require teams of strategists and negotiators to ensure strong partnerships. The benefits should be clear for both sides, and they should establish terms and responsibilities to ensure partners’ goals are in sync.